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Student Paths is road to education, funding boost

Monday, April 21, 2003

BENTON -- With budget cuts looming over education officials heads lately, any extra funding is welcomed by them.

By taking a little initiative, Kelly High School guidance counselor Rhonda Evans found a way to increase her department's chances of gaining a little extra money. The counselor recently won $200 simply by turning in questionnaire cards her students filled out for a program and winning a random drawing.

"With the budget crunch going on right now, this will really come in handy," said Evans, adding that the money will probably be used to update ACT materials.

For the past two years, Evans has been partnering with Student Paths, a program high schools implement into their curriculum to help students with the transition from high school to their future.

"They had a sorority-fraternity article and the students are pretty honest. One boy talked about how he didn't do so well his first semester and how he was placed on academic probation. It's reality," Evans pointed out.

Student Paths, based in Minnesota, partners with high schools whose teachers use a publication in the classroom as a learning tool. Student Paths is distributed to more than 50,000 Missouri 10-12th grade students and contains articles written for and by students representing a variety of information to help with the transition from high school to future.

"It talks about careers and colleges," Evans said about the newspaper, which is free to schools. "Last year, we had a senior who wrote a couple of articles that focused on her senior year. This year they have students writing about their freshman year in college."

Student Paths applies to all students, Evans said. Whether they're attending a two-year school, a four-year or a vocational school -- it's got something for everyone, she said. Also, the students writing the columns are written from different views by both those living in dorms or those who are commuting, she added.

Although other area schools such as Charleston R-1, East Prairie R-2 and New Madrid County Central, also partner with Student Paths, Kelly and Portageville are the only local schools to win the award.

Last spring a student from Portageville won $200 and two Kelly students have also won $200. When students win, they can spend the money any way they want, but when counselors win, they must use the money for their department.

"Kids enjoy reading it (Student Paths). Some of the articles really get their attention," noted Lisa Noe, Portageville High School guidance counselor.

Gayle Saunders, high school outreach coordinator for Student Paths, said the program uses the completed cards from schools as evidence of success to their contributors. All counselors are asked to have their students fill out the cards and send them back each quarter, she said.

Saunders noted not every card from each school is always sent back. "It may not be easy for counselors to collect the cards due to the school's resources -- or some counselors may just think they won't win," she explained.

High school career counselors and teachers at over 115 high schools throughout Missouri use the free program. Evans said the newspapers also provide a good opportunity for the counselors to get into the classroom.

"We don't get a lot of opportunities to get in the class," Evans said. "So to be able to go in there for about 10 minutes and talk about it, strengthens our bond with students."

Visit www.studentpaths.com for more information.