Gov. Nixon tells Zalma students they have place in world economy

Thursday, May 10, 2012
Gov. Jay Nixon talks Wednesday with Zalma social studies teacher Anita Thomason during a visit to congratulate Zalma on earning A+ schools and School of Distinction designations. (Linda Redeffer)

ZALMA, Mo. -- Gov. Jay Nixon told students in the Zalma School District that although their school is small, they are as well prepared as students from any school to compete in a global economy.

"Great schools are possible only because of strong support of everyone in the community," Nixon told students during an assembly Wednesday morning.

Nixon was in Zalma to recognize the school for being a school of distinction since 2004, and for having a 100 percent graduation rate this year. Zalma was also designated an A+ school, which enables Zalma graduates to earn a scholarship to cover the cost of tuition and fees for two years at any public two-year community college or technical school in the state. To be eligible for the program, students must have at least a 95 percent attendance record, a B average, and perform 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring service.

Teacher Dustin Davis said the distinction makes a big difference to Zalma students.

"It lets them know they are people of substance and have the potential to do great things," Davis said.

"Because we are small it doesn't mean we don't have an outstanding education compared to a larger school," business teacher Cheryl Woodfin said.

Having the A+ program means students can get through college without having a large student loan debt ahead of them after graduation, Nixon told a classroom of seventh-graders.

"It's important to begin your life with no debt so you can spend money when you get through school and help the economy," Nixon said.

"I challenge you to work hard and get into the program so we can win the future," Nixon said. "We have the best students in the world in the Show Me State, and we want to make sure you have the opportunity to succeed in the future.

Since 1997 almost 125,000 high-achieving Missouri students have qualified for A+ scholarships, and more than 50,000 have taken advantage of those incentives for at least a semester, according to a statement released by the governor's office. In total, Missouri students have received more than $250 million in A+ scholarships since 1997. Zalma is one of more than 50 schools that earned the designation last year.

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