"For instance, for the practice of leadership through service, we held a pet food supply and drive and caroled at a local nursing home last December," she said. "For the practice of mentoring we have implemented a pre-k-12 mentoring program called Panther Partners, which the students have come to love. Finally for the practice of pathways to college, we do our best to ensure that all students in grades 9-12 have at least one college experience throughout each school year. This might mean visiting a college campus, or having a discussion with someone in college here at school. We will continue to put our best efforts forward to help our students pursue college goals and CFES is a caring partner that helps that process progress."
College For Every Student, a national nonprofit that helps under-served students get to college and be successful there, granted the awards to 14 schools nationwide for their success in meeting goals during the 2009-10 academic year.
The goals include 90 percent or more of students increasing their attendance rate, grade-point average, level of civic engagement and leadership capacity.
Unlike other CFES schools, schools vying for School of Distinction status are required to engage all students as CFES Scholars.
"The purpose was to move CFES from a cohort of 100 Scholars per school to every student in the school," said Rick Dalton, CFES president. "It ensures that the program has high impact and cultivates a culture of college-going in the school."
Changing student expectations and behaviors is particularly important for CFES schools, Dalton said, which serve a large percentage of students who live below the poverty line.
"CFES activities inspire low-income youth to see college as a real option and provide the tools and opportunities that enable them to graduate from high school and make a successful transition to college," he said.