FAIRMONT - The dozen Fairmont High School seniors who attended the STRIVE banquet Wednesday evening recognized a year of hard work and a change for the better.
For four of those students - those who had the best school attendance and the most improved GPAs - it also meant a few hundred dollars in scholarship money for college.
STRIVE, which stands for Students Taking Renewed Interest in the Value of Education, is a group sponsored by the Fairmont Rotary Club. STRIVE focuses on seniors who have faced academic challenge, and each student is matched with an adult mentor from the community.
STRIVING?— Ashley Torres poses with her STRIVE mentor, Pat Winter, after receiving her completion certificate at the STRIVE banquet at Red Rock Center in Fairmont on Wednesday evening.
"Some are Rotary members, some aren't," said Pat Winter, one of the co-chairs of the STRIVE program. "But this year, we had 12 students, and they are such a great set of kids."
Throughout the school year, students met with their mentors at least once per month. The students discuss issues or problems, or simply talk about their lives. Presentations at the meetings dealt with life after high school. Subjects ranged from post-high school options, to what to look for in employment benefits, to banking and budgets, to attitudes.
The goal of STRIVE is for students to improve their grades and feel more confident about the next step in their lives.
At the banquet, another program co-chair, Jim Simpson, compared STRIVE to a story about a boy on the beach after Hurricane Sandy.
"There were tens of thousands of starfish washed up on the shore," Simpson said. "A man saw this boy throwing the starfish back in the water ... He said, 'You know, you can't save all of them.' The boy said, 'But I saved that one.' STRIVE is similar. The program helps some students, others we don't. But it makes a difference to those it helped."
Kaleb Dobie was the recipient of a $500 scholarship for most-improved GPA.
Kaylee Sauck, Brandon Jensen and Courtney Martinson each received $200 scholarships for improved GPAs, while Martinson received a scholarship for best school attendance.