Huntington High School Wins $10,000 Grant to Reward At-Risk Students

By: Carrie Cline Email
By: Carrie Cline Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Incentives for success: that's the official name. What it means, though, is $10,000 a local high school gets to use to reward at-risk students for improving their grades and attendance.

After a highly publicized truancy problem in Cabell County Schools last year, Huntington High is putting some money this year where it really matters.

“We're not necessarily saying we're giving people rewards for doing what they're supposed to do," Huntington High Graduation Coach Steven Freeman said. "We really just want to show the students that we really care a lot about them and we really want to see them succeed."

After being chastised last spring by Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Paul Farrell in truancy court, students want a gentler approach.

Dozens of Cabell County high school students and their parents were ordered to appear in court last spring for truancy problems. Some children were even removed from the home after the extremely high number of school absences.

“She should have went to school no matter what we had to do,” one mother said.

“It is hard to see a child taken from their mother, but the judge believes it is neglect from their parents,” Huntington High Attendance Director Teresa Barr-Grant said.

So, Huntington High School applied for a $10,000 grant and won it to reward the students for their steps in the right direction.

“We just want to do something nice to give them some positive reinforcement," Freeman said. "A lot of times, you see with at-risk kids; they're given a lot of negative reinforcement. So, we just wanted to say, 'Hey, we want you to work hard and when you do, good things can happen.' "

So, for the truancy court kids, here is some advice: improve your grade point average, improve your grades in core classes, get a 95 percent attendance rate and make the honor roll. For each of those accomplishments, a gift card is the reward.

Students could earn as many as four gift cards every six-week grading period.

“The kids get a ticket and can enter to win an iPad at the end of the year,” Freeman said.

The grant also has another component for students in the credit recovery classes -- they can win pizza parties and a free lunch from a restaurant of their choice for improvement.

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