To hear Aaron Pointer talk, he isn't in to academics. But to hear his instructors, to see his school records and to learn about his most recent statewide recognition, you wouldn't know it. Everyone, except the low-key New Madrid County Central High School senior, is touting him as an excellent example of today's vocational-technical education student.
Most recently, Pointer was honored by state education officials as one of 14 "Tech-Prep Students of the Year." And while he didn't win the top honor, Pointer continues to win praise from school officials.
"Aaron is just an excellent, excellent student," said Bob Pulliam, director of the Technical Skills Center for New Madrid County R-1. "He was one of our outstanding students which is why our teachers selected him to compete at the community college level. This is the first time we have ever had a district winner."
New Madrid County R-1's Technical Skills Center has some 370 students attending classes from New Madrid County Central High School as well as high schools in East Prairie, Gideon, Malden, Portageville and Risco. The school is a member of the district consortium which includes local high schools, area career and technical centers, community colleges and representatives of business, industry and labor.
Each technical school in the district could nominate a student on the basis of commitment to career and technical education, academic achievement, involvement in school or community activities, leadership abilities, and involvement in student organizations related to career and technical education. The instructors from Three Rivers Community College selected who would represent the district at the state level.
According to Pointer earlier this year he completed a video interview and an application as part of his nomination form for the district honor. In his presentation, he spoke of the vocational classes he has taken over his four years at Central.
"I've taken quite a few," said Pointer. He raised his hands to count the classes which included accounting, data processing, horticulture, Agriculture 1 and 2, business applications and others.
"When I was in the regular high school classes I did OK," explained Pointer, who is the son of Randy and Patricia Pointer of Matthews. "But when I got into the technical classes where I could see where my education was leading, then I got more interested."
He is so interested in his classes today, he has a straight A average during his senior year.
Eddie Sipp, Pointer's data processing instructor, described his student as the type he likes to see in class "with a good attitude and good attendance. I'm glad I have him in my class."
Pointer is a member of the technical school's BEST Club, which recognizes those who achieve in their classes and has received a scholarship to attend Three Rivers next fall where he plans to study data processing.
And his efforts earned him a trip to Jefferson City where he met the other honorees from across Missouri. Pointer and the other students had lunch at the governor's mansion and were introduced along with their areas of study.
Top honors this year are shared by Adam Laughlin, a senior at William Chrisman High School in Independence, and Angee Mullis, a senior at Butler High School. They were named co-winners of Missouri's "Tech-Prep Student of the Year" Award, presented by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The students who were honored as state finalists in the 2001 Tech-Prep Student of the Year program, in addition to Pointer, were: Jeremy Dean, Warrensburg High School; Jeffrey Dunaway, Central High School, Cape Girardeau; Justin Jenkins, Eldon High School; Alisha Jones, Palmyra High School; Thomas Koch, Wentzville High School; Joseph Long, Lee's Summit High School; Nicole Mense, Washington High School; Michael Monroe, Hillsboro High School; Clifton Tate, Ritenour High School, St. Louis; Evan Wingo, Buffalo High School; and Martin Zuniga, Oakville High School, St. Louis.