Purpose

The Rising Scholars initiative was designed to create in students the motivation and skills necessary to successfully complete a program of post-secondary study.  
 
Shaping our Culture
 
Our relationships play a large part in shaping who we are.  Among our most powerful influences is our peer group. They create and maintain our cultural norms throughout our lives. The clothes we wear, places we go, people with whom we associate and things we do are all a product of our culture. Cultural norms arguably play a greater role for teens than for any other age group. Statistics suggest that many teen behaviors are a product of negative influences, also known as peer pressure. 
  • Approximately 50% of teenagers feel pressured with regard to sex in relationships (Henry Kaiser Foundation)
  • Approximately 74.3% of students have tried alcohol by high school (US Dept. of Health)
  • Approximately 3.1 million teenagers smoke (American Lung Association)
  • Gang membership and violence amongst teens is growing - there are now 731,000 gang members nationally (US Dept. of Justice)
Conversely, positive peer pressure encourages students to develop good values, positive attitudes and habits, experiment with positive activities, and work towards goals that are aligned with productivity and future success. Positive peer pressure may be the single most unrecognized factor when it comes to changing culture. It can be a culture’s most powerful lever. Peers, no matter the size of the peer base, are invaluable in spreading behavior change. Peers will articulate, listen to, learn from, and align with one another in ways that can shape opinions, create needed resistance to unwanted social norms, and generate positive energy for ideas that can change an organizational culture. Consider, for example, the pressure exerted on individuals who serve in our nation’s military. Those who do not align to core values are often publicly scrutinized which creates incentive for each to be values-aligned.
 
We must develop systems to influence what goes on among student peer networks. The Rising Scholars program is that system for our school!
 
A Sense of Belonging
 
Why do young people join gangs? Why do winning varsity sports teams have more students try out than struggling ones? Why do college students join sororities or fraternities? The same answer addresses each of the questions. After physiological and safety needs are met, the next level on Maslow’s Hierarchy is the sense of belonging. Changing the culture of a school is primarily based on this and exerting positive peer pressure. In other words, when an organization’s culture is set so that those within it want to belong to it (or a subset of it), the behaviors and opinions are informed and shaped by that organization. In short, culture is dictated to them.
 
This idea is the cornerstone of the Rising Scholars program. When students and families experience the Rising Scholars program, the privileges of membership will motivate them to seek success in school. These students will, in turn, create positive peer pressure and incentive (via a sense of belonging) for other students to want to do the same. The net effect is analogous to the aphorism, a rising tide lifts all boats. 
 
Why Rising Scholars?
 
The Rising Scholar program is an initiative that creates in students the motivation and skills to be successful in a program of post-secondary study. The program takes mid to high level academic performers and prepares them for the transition to college life. The overwhelming majority of research shares top reasons students either fail to enroll in or graduate from college. At the heart of these reasons is a lack of awareness. Students were misinformed or not informed of critical pieces regarding the college degree pursuit. Rising Scholars will bridge this gap. The most telling factor of information disconnect found was the fact that students who fail to enroll or enroll and dropout of college both share one telling characteristic; They have a poor sense of life direction.  When students struggle with direction, they have few goals, and tend to have little motivation to persist in studies, school or life. As one author put it, sitting in class gets old when students feel no reason to be there. Lack of connection equals lack of motivation.   
 
What is Rising Scholars?
 
In its simplest form, the purpose of high school is prepare students for college, work or military service. Rising Scholars addresses the first of these purposes. It is a high school to college transition program that supports prospective college students by addressing the various issues that they will likely experience when they graduate from high school. The program introduces students to potential issues experienced before, during and after admission to college and provides effective solutions for each issue. Students who become members of the program attend sessions at their home school, at off-campus locations and on college campuses. 
 

Sessions also provide information for parents. All sessions are presented in fun and engaging ways so as to keep interest at its highest possible level. Session activities include, but are not limited to financial aid workshops, study skills workshops, leadership and mentoring workshops. Additionally, many sessions are facilitated by active college students who have faced the issues being addressed in the session so that hypothetical becomes actual.

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