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Building a foundation for tomorrow

On Monday a local elementary school participated in a unique kind of pep rally. Dr. Tera Simmons’ students at GES were encouraged to clap, cheer and yell, not for a sports team, but for themselves as they prepare to take the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) this week.

Speakers like Jeddo Bell and Michael “Mookie” Moore reminded the children of the importance of a good education.

Bell, one of nine children who all attended college through academic and athletic scholarships, told the children there were wonderful opportunities ahead if they applied themselves.

Moore, a former NFL player, had his career cut short with an injury. He’d left college early to turn pro; now he had to go back to school to get that degree. Today he is working on his Master’s and teaching children the importance of a good education.

Lots of children dream of becoming professional athletes or earning their Golden Ticket to Hollywood on “American Idol.” And there’s nothing wrong with flights of fantasy. And some, like Moore and singer Ruben Studdard see those dreams come true.

But the truth is, a solid foundation in the fundamentals – the ability to read and understand; to compose a grammatical sentence and express yourself through the written word; mathematical skills that equate real-life applications such as how to balance a checkbook or how much change to expect back from the cashier – will benefit a person whether they work on a sanitation truck, perform on a stage or sit in the Oval Office.

Add to that exposure to the arts and participation in athletics: both areas where children who struggle a bit academically can find a place to shine as well as earn valuable scholarship monies to help further their education.

Our local elementary schools have worked hard to not only improve children’s test scores; they’ve also given students a chance to grow through music, art and foreign language classes. Kudos to Dr. Simmons and W.O. Parmer principal Catherine Sawicki and their dedicated faculties for their efforts to give the community’s children a well-rounded foundation for tomorrow.