The town of Huntersville has restarted a student recognition program, Destination Success, after several years on hiatus.
At its March 4 meeting, for the first time in about two years, the Huntersville Town Board gave awards to 10 students.
When Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain started the program in her first term as mayor in 2007, she said the goal was to celebrate everyday student achievements that often get overlooked.
“I saw as a substitute teacher a lot of kids who always get the same awards, typical star students. But some students are so incredible in their own way, they may not fit in the typical award category.”
Whether it’s acknowledging a student with a learning disability achieving a difficult reading level or the decision to volunteer time helping other students, Destination Success is meant to provide a nod of encouragement that students are on the right path, Swain said.
“By doing their own personal best, somebody should award that.”
The program was put on hold due to the time requirements of gathering nominations each month, contacting families, holding an awards ceremony and more, Swain said.
But the Community of Huntersville Education Collaborative (CHEC) has helped to bring the program back to life by taking over soliciting student nominations from the 14 schools it serves, as well as working with local businesses to collect items for the goodie bags each student receives.
Education Collaborative chairman Carrie Kester said the program has been the perfect fit for the organization that seeks to match Lake Norman-area volunteers and businesses with Huntersville area schools.
“CHEC was designed to serve as a conduit; there are a lot of community stakeholders who want to be involved in education,” she said.
“(Swain) was facilitating it all on her own, and that’s a big job. CHEC has tried to build relationships with school and honor students, so it was a perfect partnership.”
Swain said she’s been contacted by former award recipients and learned “it really does mean something to them,” she said.
David Snedecor, a former Destination Success recipient from four years ago, was recently applying for college scholarships and asked if Swain would write him a letter of recommendation.
“My school nominated me (for Destination Success) for being ‘the kind of kid every teacher wants in her classroom,’” wrote Snedecor in an email.
“I was then recognized at the Huntersville Town Hall by (Swain) for my work ethic and attitude among other things. I was very surprised that an elected official would take the time out of her busy schedule to recognize my educational achievements and remain appreciative of (Swain’s) efforts to this day.”
Snedecor has been accepted to UNC Chapel Hill, something Swain said validates the impact a simple pat on the back can have.
“That’s what this is all about,” she said. “I may get more out of this than the kids, but it does my heart good to see how excited they are.”
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter @htrenda
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