More Than Just a Grade

The A+ program provides scholarship opportunities for graduating seniors after high school

Zachary Street, Staff Writer

   The A+ program is a two-year scholarship opportunity for academically exceptional high school students.

   Jaime Wright, the A+ Coordinator for the Nixa High School, said that the program is meant for college-bound seniors.

   “It’s intended to benefit students who are graduating,” Wright said. “Students [can] maintain their A+ eligibility throughout the four years of their high school career, but ultimately it comes down to if they’re qualified or not when they graduate.”

   Wright said that she recommends any student looking into college to try to qualify, whether they are looking into two-year or four-year colleges.

   Senior and A+ tutor Michael Bryant said that all students, college-bound or not, should take the A+ class.

   “If you have any plans of going to college, or even if you don’t have any plans of going to college, take A+ first semester,” Bryant said. “Because what happens is, after you take it, you get free OTC. So it’s really nice, and you get two years of that college.”

   Bryant also recommends students join the class, regardless of which college they intend to attend.

   “Most colleges — not all colleges — even if you don’t go to OTC …  have a scholarship or a grant that you can trade [the credits] in for, so [the program is] just free money,” Bryant said.

   Senior and A+ tutor Lily Simmons believes the program is enjoyable overall, on top of being a good way to meet new people.

   “I think it’s a great program, it’s [run] by Ms. Wright and she’s absolutely wonderful,” Simmons said. “If you have any questions, she knows all of the answers and she’s always there. I think it’s just a great way to meet other kids either your grade or younger.”

   Students were given a packet to sign up for the program at the beginning of the school year, which also contained the requirements to remain eligible. Disqualifications from the program include being convicted of one or more felonies, too many accumulated days of ISS or OSS and/or the illicit usage of drugs or alcohol. Additionally, students will be disqualified if their high school GPA falls below a 2.5, if they have not attended an A+ designated school (like NHS) for two years prior to graduation, if they score too low on the Algebra I EOC or if they are not a U.S. citizen.

   In place of the Algebra I EOC, students are able to fulfill the program’s math requirement by achieving a satisfactory score (determined by the student’s GPA) on the math section of the ACT, according to Wright.

   An additional requirement for eligibility in the program is to perform 50 hours of unpaid tutoring, which Wright said students are able to complete off-campus.

   “Students have to have 50 hours of tutoring in an academic setting,” Wright said. “So students can do that if they are in National Honor Society — they can tutor during STAR with students here at the high school, or if they take the A+ class, they have the option to tutor off campus at one of the intermediate or elementary schools here in the district.”

   Bryant said that the required tutoring time can be rewarding on its own.

   “First of all, you feel really good,” Bryant said. “What happens is I get to help 6th graders, and I remember when I was a 6th grader and the help I needed I’m able to actually give back, whether that’s [through] advice or homework help or stuff like that.”

   Simmons said that the program could also help students find a career path they are interested in, on top of a scholarship.

   “[It allows] other students to really find their niche and see if they like teaching or if they decide to work with kids in another way,” Simmons said. “[It also tries to] help kids… pay for college, so we can continue learning.”

  Bryant said that the program provides younger students with role models to look up to.

   “The A+ program is trying to get kids to stay in high school by seeing the example set by older kids,” Bryant said. “So like us as older seniors, juniors, freshmen and sophomores, we’re just trying to get kids — especially 6th grade and below–to really see the benefits of school, and why you’d want to … do good in school.”