Choctaw Students Awarded for Academic Excellence
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DURANT, Okla. (March 17, 2010) – Choctaw Chief Gregory E. Pyle and Assistant Chief Gary Batton handed out certificates and Wal-Mart gift cards to 60 Durant Intermediate School students on Friday, March 12, as part of the Choctaw Nation program Success Through Academic Recognition (STAR). The STAR program was initiated in the fall of 2007 and is an education incentive program that rewards Choctaw students in grades 2-12 with gift cards for showing excellence in their schoolwork and attendance.
Chief Pyle said he was proud of the students at DIS and he thanked them as he shook their hands and handed out their personalized certificates and gifts cards.
“You all are doing so well coming to class and making great grades. We appreciate each and every one of you. You are our future. Thank you for making this such a great program,” he told the students.
According to Seth Fairchild, STAR program coordinator, “The program encourages the academic success of Choctaws by providing them with an incentive to strive for the highest possible level of achievement. This is an exciting addition to the education services that the Choctaw Nation is able to offer the youth of our tribe.”
Currently, the program serves eligible Choctaw students attending an accredited school within the state of Oklahoma and has approximately 9,800 students participating from 560 individual schools. The plan is to expand the program in the near future to eligible Choctaw students nation-wide.
“We have seen a steady increase in the number of awards we’ve given since the inception of the program. One of our goals is to increase the number of new student awards given as well,” said Fairchild. “We want to help provide goals and direction for our Choctaw students, as well as increase their retention and graduation rates.”
According to Chief Pyle, the Choctaw Nation awards scholarships to students embarking on their collegiate career but there was also a need to recognize the younger members of the tribe for the hard work they put into their academics.
“This program started out in just the 10-½ counties and we were amazed at the success of the students,” said Chief Pyle. “I’m particularly proud of the STAR program because I believe it instills in the students a desire to do the very best they can and that starts at an early age. Our hope is that by starting young they’ll be more successful in their studies throughout school and as they continue their higher education.”
In total, more than 200 Choctaw students in the Durant School system earned awards this semester.
The Durant Intermediate School students who were recognized were:
Jon Michael Kennedy
Destinee (Sevedge) Lewis