‘YES’ to good grades

Published 9:15 am Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dowagiac Union High School has expanded its YES program to the sophomore class. The program rewards students who receive A's and B's with prizes such as pizza and gift certificates. Submitted photo

Dowagiac Union High School has expanded its YES program to the sophomore class. The program rewards students who receive A’s and B’s with prizes such as pizza and gift certificates. Submitted photo

If there is one thing educators at Dowagiac Union High School have learned over the last year, it’s that students are always down for free food.

Last week, the school rewarded a number of its sophomore students for their academic achievements with a pizza party, sponsored by Saylor’s Pizza. All 53 10th-grade students who earned all A’s and B’s throughout the first semester of the school year were invited to participate.

The ceremony was the first time that the class was recognized for their performance by the school’s Youth Enjoying Success program, organized by student advocate Doug Pearson.

“Our previous events were for freshmen,” he said. “I wanted to continue recognizing students as they move on through high school.”

A handful of the students honored last week also received an award from the program the previous year, Pearson said. However, this is the first time many of the students are receiving more than just a certificate for their accomplishments, because it was also a celebratory event.

“The students seemed to enjoy it,” Pearson said. “They went through about 10 boxes of pizza in about 15 minutes.”

This was also the first time that Saylor’s Pizza sponsored one of YES’s ceremonies. Pearson has reached out to the local McDonald’s and Pizza Hut for the freshman recognition events. The owners have donated gift certificates and other rewards to students.

When discussing the possibility of sponsoring the sophomore awards, the pizza restaurant’s manager, Jamie Saylor, was more than willing to pitch in, Pearson said.

“He was very receptive to the idea of supporting us,” he said. “He thought it was a good idea to recognize students who have done well academically.”

During midterms week, the school announced that they would be honoring its A/B sophomores, in hopes that the added incentive would give students a last minute surge in their academic performance, Pearson said.

“I was pleased with the number of students who we honored,” Pearson said. “Last year, I think this same class only had around 40 to 45 A/B students.”

Created two years ago, the YES program was devised as a way to encourage students during their first years in high school, which for a lot students are the most difficult years they will face, Pearson said. By partnering with local businesses, students receive better rewards, and the community’s investment in student success is represented.

“Hopefully it will encourage other students as well,” Pearson said.

The school hopes to eventually expand the program to higher grades as well, once more businesses come on board to help, Pearson said.

“This isn’t something where every student gets it,” he said. “They will have to earn it, whether it’s through academics or achievements in the classroom.”

Local businesses interested in sponsoring future YES events can contact Pearson, at dpearson@dowagiacschools.org.


Students honored were:

Reid Adams

Alyssa Allen

Haven Angell

Jeremy Benkert

Elijah Blackamore

Keoante Blackamore

David Brogan

Jessica Burns

Maleigha Clark

Ellen Cox

Alyssa Crocker

Zachary Davis

Olga Dickson-French

Cody Dodd

Marissa Dodd

Samantha Dowsett

Rebecca Fletcher

Austin Garrelts

Ronald Hackworth

Heather Hammond

Gabrielle Harrison

Rachel Hatch

Gregor Heilborn

Kaitlyn Johnson

Amber Keene

Ean Kerby

Mckinzie Kiggins

Joshua Lamphere

Jennifer Lemus

Jordan Ludwig

Laura Lynn-Lee

Eva Mainka

Brittany Malin

Alison Marchant

Kyler Mark

Amanda McElhery

Kaitlyn Murphy

Mara Nelson

Heather Olson

Link Pellow

Jacob Peters

Ann-Josephine Quadt

Kelly Rafferty

Derek Revis

Mckenna Richter

Sonia Sahavedra

Harold Schaus

Kelsey Smith

Elizabeth Stockwell

Deyonte Sullivan

Star Whitmore

Justin Yakim

Anne Zebell