10/17/07 — A bright spot: Child’s scholarship story might be a revelation for future

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A bright spot: Child’s scholarship story might be a revelation for future

With all the angst and hand-wringing that has taken place over test scores, school quality and the future, the news this week that a county fourth-grader has already earned a college scholarship was a welcome diversion.

Little Nakia Atkins of Carver Heights Elementary School has earned a full ride to Appalachian State University.

The proud little boy, with his grandmother and mother in attendance, enjoyed being the center of attention as adults and his classmates took the time to congratulate him this week.

He earned the honor by scoring the highest on the county’s math proficiency test.

The scholarship is an annual honor given to the student who manages to capture that distinction.

And his achievement should make us all pause to think a bit about not only Nakia, but the hundreds of other fourth-graders just like him — full of potential.

What we have to make sure of now is that we get him all the way to graduation day.

So, how do you do that? How do you help a child keep his focus and enthusiasm so that he can one day take his spot in a college freshman class?

Perhaps we learned part of the secret this week — we tell him we already know he can accomplish that feat.

By giving this young man a scholarship before he has even really logged the education to earn it, we have signaled to him that working hard will pay off — and that we know he can be anything he wants to be. Pretty powerful stuff for most kids.

But in addition to pushing him along and challenging him to learn and to achieve more in school, we have to rely on his family to keep him on track, too.

His grandmother has already promised she is going to continue to nag him to get his work done. She thinks that insistence is what helped him get the high math score in the first place.

So, with a partnership like that, how can we lose?

So that brings us to the other elementary, middle and high school students we are charged with educating, How do we get them enthusiastic about learning and keep them focused and on track.

Maybe we should offer more dreams to more young people — before they have the chance to make other choices.

Perhaps a few more scholarships — with strings attached — might be a motivator to keep more students in school — and to push others to achieve what they are capable of, not just what gets them by.

Who knows, maybe there are a few more Nakias out there, waiting for a chance to shine.

Published in Editorials on October 17, 2007 11:39 AM