Some may consider fifth grade the end of a journey, for others it’s just the beginning.
“We tell our fifth-graders that they are the seniors of our school. It is our job to prepare them for junior high and keep them motivated to excel academically,” said Dr. Diana Quisenberry, principal of Benteen Elementary. “It’s important to do well in life, and it starts at the elementary level.”
To honor students’ academic achievements, Benteen held a “90+ Celebration” on Feb. 2 in collaboration with the W.E.B. DuBois Society. Named in honor of the famous educator and philosopher, the Atlanta-based organization offers programs structured to encourage students and keep them motivated to succeed.
Since 2004, the W.E.B. DuBois Society has focused on high school students, and offers a 20-week mentoring program along with college scholarships. But it recently extended its reach to middle and elementary school students. The “90+ Celebration” recognizes students in three categories, those with a minimum 90-plus grade-point average, students who have increased proficiency in math or science by one letter grade; and students who are consistently prepared for class, complete their homework on time and actively participate in the classroom.
Each student earned a certificate and a new book bag. High achievers who maintained a 90-plus cumulative average also get an ice cream party.
“We expanded the program to increase exposure and encourage kids to be proud of being smart,” said Gloria Logan of the Du Bois Society, which also works with students from Long Middle and South Atlanta High School. “This is the foundation to being successful in our world.”
Perhaps the emphasis on academic excellence is contagious. Fifth-grade teacher Derrick Morgan proudly congratulated his students for their performance, and noted that he, too, was headed back to school. As an educator with the Teach For America program, he has decided to pursue his master’s degree with an emphasis on education.
“Perhaps I can make an impact on another level,” he said.
Benteen Elementary award recipients
Academic Spirit: Recognizes students who have improved academically by being prepared for class, actively participating in assignments and seeking additional assistance when necessary.
Students who have increased proficiency in math or science by at least one letter grade.
Students who have a minimum 90+ cumulative average.