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TCMS sets sights on 'top 100'

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TC1C program challenges students to set, attain goals

By Phyllis McLaughlin

TC1C.

It doesn’t look like much in print, but the combination of letters and numbers represents Principal Mike Genton’s goal for 2011 – bringing Trimble County Middle School up among Kentucky’s top 100 middle schools.

With TCMS standing at No. 250 of roughly 375 middle schools statewide, it is a lofty goal, indeed. But Genton believes in his students and staff, and believes the school will succeed.

Schools are ranked based on state and national standardized test scores, including the No Child Left Behind testing required by the federal government. Ranking in the top 100 in the state means the students this spring will have to rack up some outstanding test scores, Genton said. Those results won’t be known, though, until the fall.

Explaining the logo, he said he based it on the “UK2K” T-shirt, which was sold last year to commemorate the University of Kentucky becoming the first college in the NCAA to win 2,000 basketball games.

The “UK2K” appears on the front of the black T-shirt in blue and white lettering; on the back, in white lettering, is the phrase, “The greatest tradition in college basketball.”

The TCMS version is similar, except on the back, the shirt says: “Count on Me! 1-Goal, 0-Excuses, 0-Exceptions.”

Every student in the school has one of the T-shirts, which are required gear for the monthly pep rallies Genton has planned to keep the students excited about school, and about the goal that’s been set.

To keep it interesting, each grade level is competing to get the most points by the end of the school year. Genton said points are distributed based on the daily and weekly average attendance. At the end of each nine-week grading period, the grade level with the best percentage wins the points.

The kids also earn points for their classmates during the rallies, which include contests such as maneuvering an Oreo cookie from your face to your mouth without using your hands, or seeing who can down a bottle of soda the fastest.

The grade level with the best attendance in the schoolwide competition will earn a cookout at the end of the year.

It’s all about getting students excited about school, which is the only way to keep them coming every day so they can stay on track with their studies and do well on the tests, Genton said.

“There has to be something about the building that attracts kids. There has to be positive experiences so they’ll want to be here every day. That’s what we’re trying to create for our students.”

And the process makes it exciting for him, too. “It makes me feel good to see kids getting excited about school – something that’s not just extracurricular. It’s more academic, but it’s still fun.”

Community involvement
is important, too

And there’s plenty of fun to go around. Genton wants to encourage adults in the community to become more involved with the school and its students – even those who may not have children attending TCMS.

He’s hoping adults will volunteer to help teachers – such as making copies, to free teachers from spending instruction time to do such tasks, he said. Adult volunteers could also mentor a student or a small group. The time commitment can be anything the adult can give – monthly, weekly or daily.

Or just once. He said he would like to see adults come to talk to students about their jobs, for instance, to show how important education was for them to get to where they are.

Middle school is important, “because kids are starting to build their academic future, and establishing their personalities, their values, their morals – what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” Genton said. “It’s very important for them to feel loved, supported, cared for and safe.”

So, why is Genton striving to reach the top 100? Why not strive to be No. 1?

“The reason the top 100 is so important is because you have to get there before you can get to the top,” he explained. “You have to set goals and work toward those goals. ... Goal setting is important for individuals, schools and the community. If you don’t achieve your goals, then you adjust and try again. It’s a very important part of life.”

Genton said he believes TCMS is a good school. “I want to be a great school,” he said. “If you’re good, then you can be great; if you’re great, then you can be spectacular.”