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We’re making it ‘Cool To Be Smart’ with celebration, prizes

2014 May 15
by HISD Communications

Knowledge is its own reward – but sometimes it’s nice to provide extra incentive to motivate our students to pursue the most rigorous academic pathway.

That’s the thought behind Cool To Be Smart, a program I brought with me to HISD, which rewards high school students taking a strong schedule of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or dual credit courses with a special celebration and prizes each May. This year’s edition will be presented Sunday, May 18.

The big payoff is a brand-new car, given to a graduating senior who is chosen by drawing. But this year, our College Readiness Department had the idea that it would be nice to include sophomores and juniors who are taking that rigorous coursework, too. They don’t get a chance at the car, but they can qualify for iPads, Google Chromebooks, and gift cards. The College Readiness team members – who are both cool and smart – also figured it wouldn’t hurt to have the underclassmen realize that they could win the car soon, if they keep up the challenging work.

Peer pressure can be strong on teens, and the idea that being a good student isn’t cool – sometimes having to forego an outing with friends to hit the homework – was around even before I was in high school. In a sense, we’re really rewarding character and discipline in this program, as well as our students’ academic strengths.

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