By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Unlike her schoolmates, Kristin Smith was not in a rush Tuesday afternoon to get a slice of pizza inside the Meridian High School gymnasium.
Instead, the 17-year-old junior was talking about when she will get a summer job and on what she would like that job to be. But maybe most importantly, Smith was anxious to use her new recognition as a School Counts honoree in helping her to secure that job.
"I think by reaching this achievement I have made myself more attractive to potential employers," Smith said. "I love working with children so I hope I can get a job at The Park at North Hills. That would be great."
Smith, along with more than 600 other MHS students, were recognized in the School Counts program, which is a joint endeavor between the Meridian School District and the East Mississippi Business Development Authority (EMBDC). Wade Jones, president of EMBDC, told the students gathered inside the gym Tuesday they deserve to give themselves a pat on the back for this achievement.
"By making it to this point you have proven that you will make a good employee," Jones said.
School Counts strives to improve workforce preparedness in Meridian and Lauderdale County. The program is designed for students in grades 10-12. Each Fall 10th grade students are introduced to School Counts.
Qualifying students earn a School Counts ID card that identifies them as having met the following program criteria: Achieve a 97 percent attendance and punctuality record; obtain a grade of "C" or better in each course; be on target to graduate with their class; and exhibit positive behavior at school.
Businesses who choose to participate are committing to grant priority in interviewing and hiring qualified applicants who present the School Counts ID. An applicant presenting a School Counts card provides an added knowledge of work ethic and dependability for local businesses in the pre-screening process.
"The EMBDC now has over 120 area businesses committed to this program," said Jones.
Dr. Alvin Taylor, superintendent of the Meridian School District, said this program makes the community and the school system stronger.
"This benefits not only the students but the employers and the community as a whole," Taylor said. "Many of these students will soon be looking for summer jobs and an employer will be more confident in hiring someone who has gone through this program."
Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry said by reaching this goal, the students have made themselves more marketable as employees.
"These students represent the cream of the crop," Barry said. "People will want to hire these young people because they are a proven commodity."