According to implementers of the program, “For many, this achievement required overcoming name-calling and rejection from their peer group.” Studies suggest that African American and Latino honor students often cave to classmates’ taunts that they’re “acting white.” To win their peers’ acceptance, they set aside schoolwork and their grades decline. This new program, It’s So Cool To Be Smart, has transformed studiousness into coolness.
Since its introduction, schools report that they have increased the number of honor students since the first quarter of this school year. Teach America’s Children awarded grants of up to $10,000 to each participating school.
The honor roll students are continuing to excel and many of their classmates now want to join the Smart Club and participate in academic enhancement activities, such as the Is It Cool To Be Smart? Essay contest. Ariel Thompson, an 8th grade student at Leslie Lewis, won 3rd Place in the essay contest.
Students in the program attend special programs at area universities, math and science camps, and compete for scholarships. A Langford Elementary School 8th grader won a $4,000 scholarship to Providence-St. Mel High School. The award can be renewed annually.
Parents of honor roll students are also recognized for their efforts, including LaShanda Williams of Leslie Lewis and Tiffany Shell of Horatio May Academy.