Genoa High School seniors received end-of-year academic honors at their first ever sit-down recognition dinner Sunday night.
The dinner, at which school awards and college scholarships were announced, was organized by the fledgling Genoa Academic Committee.
The group was formed this school year, and its goals are numerous, ranging from providing additional funding for academic needs not addressed by the district because of financial constraints; establishing a student-based tutoring program; promoting and enhancing the technology program and recognizing students with incentives to enhance academic success.
The Genoa Academic Committee – an academic booster group
Boosting the reward system is what led to the end-of-the-year banquet. In the past, senior recognition occurred at an in-school assembly.
“This is the first time the parents have had the opportunity to be there and be part of the event,” said Cari Buehler, assistant high school principal. “We’re really excited about it.”
The estimated 60 students gathered with family at the high school/middle school cafeteria. The Genoa Education Association helped out by paying for the student meals. Family members attending paid $10 each, according to Genoa Academic Committee President Kellie Szymanski.
Szymanski said the committee grew out of the frustration experienced among administration and parents over budget cuts made in challenging economic times.
“They didn’t have the funds to bring in speakers, do incentives and other extra things to help the kids along academically,” she said.
Szymanski, a former third grade teacher herself as well as the mother of two high school boys, understood the situation. She proudly supports the sports programs and other school organizations but also wanted to see academics get the boost it deserves.
“I’d like to see Genoa be known for its academics,” said Szymanski, noting the teachers and students are all top rate. So Szymanski, with the assistance of Buehler and others, conjured up the idea of the Genoa Academic Committee.
“It’s basically like a PTO for the high school. We’ve had real nice support,” said Szymanski. “We want to be a huge proponent to make sure they (students) know we are proud of them.”
To date, there are about 35 active members. Their concentration in the initial year has been on organizing, feeding excitement among students with incentives, such as ice cream dessert bars for good grades and the recognition dinner, and fundraising for larger projects.
GAC members have also formed a partnership with Rayz Café in downtown Genoa, which sponsored a couple of Rayz Days, where 10 percent of profits during a specified night went to the GAC.
And to add a little fun to the mixture, there’ll be a chance to drop teachers, coaches and others in a dunk tank at the Genoa Homecoming on May 31 to bring in some cash for the organization.
The GAC will also be able to seek out grants from Walmart, Meijer and other companies once the organization receives its 501 tax status.
Those monies will be key in the group’s chief pursuit to help better the technology program throughout the high school building, Szymanski said.
But they aren’t forgetting the teens either. GAC plans a Back to School Dance at the high school in August to kick off the 2013-14 school year.
“We don’t want to do what the other boosters are doing so we don’t step on any feet,” she said.
The GAC also serves as a support system for parents, keeping them abreast of what is happening in the school and what issues can affect their child’s school experience. Several staff members are GAC members. Meetings not only focus on the group’s activities but offer tips-of-the-month for parents, provide website information and help families with college-bound students connect with scholarships.
“The scholarships are out there if you are willing to work for it. You’ve got to do the research.”