Local Rotary Club completes its 10th year of high school program
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN - Striving to become a better student and developing a positive attitude is exactly what Cokato Dassel Rotarian Eric Johnson works to do as chair of the STRIVE program.
STRIVE stands for Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of Education and has just completed its 10th year at Dassel-Cokato High School.
“It is very exciting to spend seven months with a group of fantastic kids that dedicate themselves to improving not only their grades . . . but their confidence, self-esteem, and attitudes,” Johnson said, who has been chair of the local STRIVE program for seven years.
“They are making a change by making a choice,” he added.
STRIVE was started by a Rotarian in White Bear Lake, Don Monney, in 1993, as a way for his Rotary club to “assist in the educational development of the high school youth in the community.”
Students sought out for the program are typically in the bottom one-third of their senior class based on their grades.
This year, 12 students met with volunteers from the Cokato Dassel Rotary Club and high school guidance counselor Cassie Vogt met once a month over the lunch hour to discuss a range of topics from study habits to interview skills.
With Johnson being in human resources, one of his tips for the students was making sure they wash their car before going to an interview, which became a joke for the remainder of the year.
At the end of the program, the three students who have improved their grade point average the most each receive a scholarship during the STRIVE banquet in May.
This year’s $1,000 scholarship went to Wyatt LaBaw, the $600 scholarship went to Emily Silge, and the $400 scholarship went to Chris Smith.
“All the students in this year’s program have shown their dedication,” Johnson said.
“They all have either maintained or improved their grade levels, have considered attendance an important attribute, and have taken that interest in becoming a better person by choosing their attitudes,” he said.
In the STRIVE program, Johnson enforces the importance of a positive attitude and how it can either make or break a person.
Top scholarship winner Wyatt LaBaw can attest to the importance of a positive attitude.
“STRIVE has taught me that I can do it,” he said.
Scholarship winner Emily Silge came into the program unsure of the benefits of it, but had heard the program is a good motivator.
Silge found out that it did help to motivate her to get better grades, as well as learn better study habits that would help get her them.
What she liked most was getting together with the other students in the program and talking about their issues as one, Silge said.
She also enjoyed learning more about developing healthy relationships and communicating with others.
The skills Silge has learned will be carried on and used throughout her college career and beyond.
“I’ve kept every paper that I’ve gotten at every meeting and when I go off to college, I will try and use those tips to better my way of learning and studying in school,” she said.