Oklahoma Scholars Project 2003-2005 and Beyond
For more information about how active business leaders supervise progressive Oklahoma Scholars Projects, contact: Susan Harris, Senior Vice President, Education and Community Betterment, Tulsa Metro Chamber, http://ww3.tulsachamber.com
Oklahoma was one of the first six states to implement the State Scholars Initiative under the management of OBEC from May 2003 until 2005, when local business groups successfully directed their own programs. The Scholars mission is to increase the percentage of students who complete a more academically enriched course of study.
The basic course requirements for Oklahoma Scholars graduates are the following:
- 4 Credits English: English I, II, III, IV
- 3 Credits Mathematics: Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra I
- 3 Credits Science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
- 31/2 Credits Social Studies: World History, U.S. History, U.S. Government, Oklahoma History, Economics
- 2 Credits Same Foreign Language Other Than English (A minimum of 2.5 GPA is required in the core subjects as well as an over-all 2.5 GPA.)
Scholars is a high impact, low cost, business-led program that places business leaders in eighth grade classrooms to tell students the benefits of completing the Scholars program, specifically that Scholars graduates have more options beyond high school. The program is offered to all students, but the focus is aimed at the middle 50 percentile, those students who normally take the path of least resistance but respond well to encouragement.
- Great Expectations, Great Rewards - A presentation given to each eighth grade class during the regular class period and covers global competition, transcripts, life-span analysis, and a budget based on a modest income. It is presented approximately two weeks before students enroll in their classes for ninth grade.
- Incentives and Support to Stay on Track - Business leaders in each community will establish a strategy for securing incentives for their student population. These are low cost tangibles given to qualifying Scholars participants as a way to keep students encouraged and motivated when the harder courses present challenges. Prime parking spaces at school, prom tickets, movie tickets, discounts with local merchants, off campus lunches, and college visits are just a few examples of those incentives.
- Senior Recognition Event(s) - Each business community determines how to honor those students at or after graduation.
With the rapidly changing ways in how young people access and use information, local business groups tailor the Oklahoma Scholars program as needed for the youth in their communities.
Union Public Schools initiated its first Scholars project in 2011.
In the fall of 2003, four school districts and their respective chambers (Ardmore City Schools, Ardmore Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Durant Public Schools, Durant Area Chamber of Commerce, Sand Springs Public Schools, Sand Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa Public Schools, and Tulsa Metro Chamber) were selected to implement Scholars as pilot sites. Collectively, the four pilot communities trained 200 volunteer/business leaders to give presentations to over 4,000 eighth graders and implemented the Scholars Project. These sites gained experiences that were valuable as they moved into the second year and added another 4,000 students to the Scholars program.
Two of the pilot sites recognized the first Oklahoma Scholars graduates in May of 2005. Ardmore City Schools recognized thirteen Scholars¡¦ graduates by having business presenters award the gold medallions during commencement exercises. Ardmore Scholars¡¦ graduates were also treated with a Senior Recognition Event, a day trip to Six Flags Over Texas. Durant Public Schools presented nine graduates who met the Scholars' requirements with a gold medallion at an awards ceremony on May 17.
Three new sites that were added in the school year 2004-2005 were Norman, McAlester, and Sperry (along with Norman Chamber of Commerce, McAlester Chamber of Commerce, and Sperry Merchants Association). This brought approximately 1,500 more eighth grade students to view the presentations. Other sites continue to express interest and request information for implementation in 2006.