Haralson County Certified Literate Community Program, LAMP (Learning Always Means Progress) Director Betty Candler, along with members of the Bremen Rotary Club, have spent a great deal of time in the past two weeks doing what they do best: giving local students the tools, and a few incentives, to graduate.
Last Thursday, LAMP distributed wristbands to Bremen Middle School eighth graders, followed by Haralson County Middle School students this Tuesday as part of their recent expansion to include the benefits of being on path to graduate to younger students.
The wristbands are only one year of free perks the students receive if they stay on the path to graduation. Seventh graders receive thesauruses, freshmen receive T-shirts, sophomores get lanyards, juniors get key chains and seniors have the chance to win a car.
“It matters to the community if you graduate,” Candler told eighth graders at Bremen Middle School. “We want you to graduate from high school.”
Candler told the eighth graders of both Bremen and Haralson County about the importance of their educations, not only to themselves but to their communities.
“We have one of the highest unemployment rates in Georgia,” she said. “An educated workforce provides new business and new industry for your community.”
Candler told the Bremen students how she herself taught in their school system for 39 years, and asked them to promise to graduate from high school before she distributed the wristbands.
“The average college graduate pays $11,000 in income taxes. High school dropouts only pay $4,000 in income taxes,” she said.
Also this week, LAMP teamed up with the Bremen Rotary Club to pass out dictionaries to all local third graders as part of the national Dictionary Project. For the eighth year, students of H.A. Jones, Buchanan, and West Haralson Elementary Schools received their own dictionaries.
“The more you learn, the better the progress,” Candler told the third graders at Buchanan Elementary, “the better educated you are, the better the future.”
The dictionaries include not only words and their definitions, but a gazetteer, the multiplication table, and the longest word in the English language-with 1,909 letters, a crowd favorite.
“You learn everything you learn through words,” she said. “I think you’ll enjoy all the things you can learn.”
Since the last car raffle at Haralson County High School last May, Candler has worked to receive donations from the local city and county governments to extend the raffles to all high school classes. Now freshman students have the potential to win a digital camera, sophomores could win a video game system, juniors have a chance at a laptop, and the seniors still have the car to hope for.
Students earn tickets for each raffle with each grade of an A or B and every month they attend school without a tardy, absence, or discipline referral.
Candler said that the incentives have already proved themselves to be successful, with graduation rates reaching a cumulative 84 percent and administrators at HCHS seeing a marked improvement in attendance.
“If we’re going to attract new businesses and industry, we need to look at education,” she said. “The first thing new businesses want to know when looking at an area is the graduate rate in the county.”
Candler recommends visiting the Website zipskinny.com for more statistics on local graduation rates and other statistics.