RUSSELLVILLE ENCOURAGES POST-GRADUATION PURSUITS

Above the newly-lit basketball backboards and among athletic achievement banners is a new recognition for the Cole R-1 Schools ACT 30-plus Club.

Three Russellville High School students this year have scored 30 or higher on the standardized test used by many colleges for entrance eligibility.

Nameplates for them and at least six others in school records dating back to 2008 should be up soon.

Counselor Brent Mettlen said he hopes to hear from other Russellville graduates who have earned such a score.

“We recognize our athletics,” Mettlen said. “It’s just as big an achievement to score a 30 or higher.”

In addition to honoring the individual’s feat, the public display should motivate future students, too.

“A few students here are close (to 30),” Mettlen said. “Once that board went up, they were motivated to push to the 30 mark.

“It’s well-worth it, if that’s what it takes.”

Last semester, the school offered an ACT preparation class during its new “eighth hour.” This semester, they hope to offer a one-day, intense ACT preparation class the Saturday before the national testing days.

“As a small school with a small staff, we have to be creative,” Mettlen said.

The push for improved ACT scores is part of a larger push to “get kids aware there’s a lot of opportunities out there,” Mettlen said.

“You don’t have to be an A student to go on to a post-secondary school.”

Several students currently attending Nichols Career Center for automotive and electronics skills training have ambitions to attend Linn State Technical College or Lincoln University after graduation, Mettlen said.

“They have such a different view on what they can do after high school, now,” he said.

As more students realize they can go on to higher education, Mettlen hopes the climate and culture within the high school will get more students talking about it.

He encourages juniors to meet with college representatives who visit the school and also host booths at area college fairs. From there, students are encouraged to go on campus visits.

“Then, there’s a little excitement,” Mettlen said.

Many of this year’s seniors came back in August confident of their majors.

Currently, 34 of the 39 seniors have applications in to a post-secondary institution.

Mettlen attributes the A+ program for the high numbers. About 20 will qualify this spring.

“It’s been fabulous; many are looking at State Fair Community College because their tuition is taken care of,” Mettlen said.

Many sophomores knock on his door to make sure their grade point average is good enough to be eligible, he said.

In addition to maintaining a grade point average of 3.0, A+ students must keep high attendance and clean behavior records. And they serve 50 hours of mentoring at the elementary and middle school building.

School performance is the student’s responsibility. Financing is the parents’, usually.

For the second year, Russellville High School will host a Financial Aid Night at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education will discuss the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a requirement for A+ students and anyone seeking financial assistance for college costs.

“It’s a complicated process,” Mettlen noted.

Some parent questions he can’t answer, that’s why he’s providing this free opportunity for Russellville parents to meet with the experts.

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