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Spam, fishing and golf
will brighten our students' futures

5/24

I am excited.

This is something that rarely happens this time of the year with the exception of when I know it’s bedtime, usually indicated when, tucked into bed, I nod off at midnight, facedown on my laptop keyboard.

It is really busy at the Iowa Park Leader every Spring with little opportunity for random displays of excitement or even cognitive awareness of any sort.

Having a cause to work for always seems to get me out of a funk like that, and this week I will start pulling out of that funk.

As we’ve reported in the past, as well as this week, in The Leader, Vernon College and Iowa Park High School have teamed up to offer our students more concurrent courses than ever before, as well as skills training.

These opportunities will give our students the possibility of entering college as sophomores and possibly juniors, right after high school graduation.

In addition, the skills training will offer certifications in welding, HVAC, medical terminology and machining and computer and information systems, which will allow these students to immediately enter the work force with considerable skills and much better paycheck than McDonald’s can offer.

And while the concurrent courses and skills training aren’t free, they are at roughly half the cost of what a public four-year university would charge.

That’s exciting.

Vernon College has been very progressive in this endeavor, and in an effort to help students afford these courses, put $10,000 into a scholarship fund to be used by IPHS students for these concurrent courses.

In addition, it was announced at the Iowa Park School Board meeting that they’ve offered an additional $10,000 if our community can raise the money to match that amount.

I think we can, and that’s why I’m excited.

Already several have begun thinking of creative and community-involving ways to raise that money.

That is what makes Iowa Park special.

By the end of the night, ideas had been tossed around that included a golf tournament, a fishing tournament and homecoming activities to directly go for IPHS concurrent course and skills training scholarships.

My hope is that each of you, whether you have children in our schools or not, recognizes the immediate benefit of this program to our community.

Our students graduating with college credits will be much more likely to attend college. Some will return here to live and work and some will not. But almost all of them will be productive citizens and almost all will always call Iowa Park ‘home.’
Those students completing skills training will be able to immediately enter the workforce, and become local consumers, which boosts our economy.

All of them will be able to thank, in part, Iowa Park schools and Vernon College for an advantage that is not available to many.

In the coming months I will be asking for you to help, because I’m planning on Iowa Park far-exceeding the $10,000 in matching funds.

Already, I’m on board to help with a fishing tournament, which Jonathan Clubb has also agreed to work on.

I’m sure Clubb will be involved in the golf tournament as well. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a combo 9-iron/rod and reel, because he loves both sports so much.

Also - and this is big - the Iowa Park Leader will again team up with the amazing block of meat known as SPAM for the second annual SPAM I Am Cookoff at homecoming.

This year, I’m pledging half of the proceeds to the Iowa Park Food Bank, and the other half to the IPHS concurrent scholarship fund.

Last year, $1,500 was raised for the Iowa Park Food Bank and I predict that more than twice that will raised.

The reason for this is two-fold:
1) Iowa Park’s growing awareness and appreciation of SPAM; and
2) The SPAM I Am Cookoff has taken on a life of it’s own.

Already I have a homecoming parade chairman who promises a float that will make the Hormel CEO weep.

A SPAM carving contest in also on tap, with murmurings of SPAM dodgeball being possible. We will not have a Bobbing for SPAM contest, which has been viciously rumored.

And of course, there will be SPAM foods at Whoop-T-Do to be judged, ridiculed and most importantly, available for public consumption.

I welcome any suggestions for the cook-off and will announce details of the contest in the next few weeks.

Roughly half of the Iowa Park High School Class of 2007 will walk across the stage Friday night with college credits as a result of the concurrent courses we are already offering.

With your help, we can insure that each and every student who attends our school has the opportunity - regardless of financial capability - to do the same thing.

I’m waiting to hear from you.



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