That’s the question that was posed to students and guests at a reception held at the Hickman County High School Library. Falcon Academy and the Four Rivers Scholarship Program founded by Robbie Rudolph were honored for a year of achievement.
Superintendent Kenny Wilson told Hickman County High School seniors that three years ago in achievement testing, the district had 4 high school students with the score of “distinguished” and 9 scoring as proficient. Two years ago, no students were distinguished and 16 were proficient. This year, Hickman County High has 7 distinguished students and 31 proficient. Wilson attributed the improved scores to the hard work of the senior class.
“You changed the character of this school.” Wilson told the seniors.
Wilson singled out senior Lynntoi Cooney for recognition. Lynntoi wanted to take a college English class and worried whether she could do it. She certainly could. Lynntoi, a single mother, not only passed her college class with a “B”, but was one of the seven students who earned the title of “distinguished” on her achievement test.
Seniors took 362 college hours in the fall semester through Falcon Academy and passed every hour they took. This semester, they are signed up for 411 college hours. Wilson said that the students are expected to pass 411 hours. He told them that there won’t be any senioritis and “we will be in your business, calling your parents if you slack off.”
Wilson recognized the sponsors whose financial support made it possible for students to take 362 college hours without charge. First Community Bank, Clinton Bank and Jackson Purchase A.C.A. contributed $62,000 to fund the college program. Robbie Rudolph purchased books. Robbie and Lisa Rudolph also helped 22 graduates of Hickman County High School with their expenses.
Wilson thanked the educational institutions that offer classes – Murray State University, Western Kentucky Community & Technical College, the University of Tennessee at Martin and Midcontinent University of Mayfield that sends a college algebra instructor to the high school.
Bundles of handwritten thank you notes were distributed to the financial contributors, the Rudolphs and Jennifer Van Waes of Gear –Up, a program that has helped students chart their career course and has expended funds to help them get there. Gear Up is at the end of its funding cycle and is applying for more funds to continue to be involved.
Wilson predicted that Falcon Academy will be bigger and better next year. The days of students sitting around their senior year taking few courses and begging to work as office aides are over. Next year, juniors will be allowed to take college classes. Four more agriculture classes, including an agricultural math class will be added. High school students will be able to graduate with twelve hours in agriculture. Hickman County is predominantly a farming community and offering college ag at the high school level will spur more students to take college courses, giving them momentum to further their education after their senior year.
With support from philanthropists Robby and Lisa Rudolph, local financial institutions, colleges and universities, faculty and staff, parent and community enthusiasm, it seems clear that where Hickman County High School goes from here is UP.