By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A large group of Escambia County Middle School students gathered last Friday, January 17, in the school gym for a rare occasion that is rapidly becoming more common. Nearly 200 ECMS fourth, fifth and sixth graders were assembled for one purpose, to congratulate themselves (again) on a job well done.
For the third year in a row, the local children knuckled down and buckled down in November to work Imagine Math problems that would create “points” that could be redeemed to help hungry people. Imagine Math is described as a “a unique motivation system” for developing math skills among youngsters.
After students, teachers and administrators were instructed to swap “high-5s” with each other, Imagine Math’s Kristine Averill poured the first cup of self-gratitude on the proceedings.
“We’re here to honor you guys for all your hard work,” Averill said. “This is a special day, a big celebration, because you guys are so awesome with Imagine Math. And you’re willing to give your points to someone else. Those high-5s are for a reason; you should be high-fiving yourselves and you should be really proud of yourselves and your school.”
The competition was held during a four-week period last November and involved 99 schools, 460 classrooms and more than 12,000 Alabama students, each of whom were given goals. The program was implemented at ECMS more than two years ago, and students took to it immediately. Many of the ECMS students have constantly met or exceeded the minimum requirements.
“You did a great job,” said Beth Finch of the Alabama Food Bank Association, which received a $702 donation from ECMS, which amassed more than a million “think points,” all of which were redeemed in the form of a $702 donation to the organization. “I want to thank you so much for going the extra mile, doing the extra math problems. Your donation will provide about 1,400 meals for children across the state. Give yourself a round of applause.”
IM’s Christy Sanders presented certificates of achievement to the top classrooms, including Amanda Crowder’s fourth graders, who were collectively the school’s top points earners.
Individual awards were handed out to the top six student achievers, including Keondre Grissett, Jaberie Knight, Kennedy Porter, Ciara Banks, Taniyah Barron and Jamaurion Silar. Those students formally presented the check to Finch and the food bank association.
Assistant Principal Toya McMillian again encouraged the gathering to show appreciation to themselves, individually and as a group, for their accomplishments.
“Give yourselves another round of applause,” she said. “In order to attend this assembly today, there were a minimum of lessons you had to complete, and look at how many students we have in here today. Today proves that hard work pays off. You don’t have to wait for later for it to pay off, it paid off today.”
Ms. Crowder, in her second year at ECMS, said the program has made a difference in the study habits of the majority of the students who take part in the program. It has also lit a spark under some students who weren’t as quick as some to grasp the Imagine Math concepts.
“They have worked so hard … and it’s even helped some of the lower students to come up to where they are getting closer to their classmates,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see that. These kids worked hard, not only in the classroom but out of it, and it shows. It gives them confidence, and that means everything to these kids. Just to see that little bit of confidence in their faces is really heartwarming.”