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Speakers sending message of Achievement Counts

September 14, 2000

Speakers sending message of Achievement Counts



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


If they weren't thinking about it before, 1,700 ninth-grade students in Washington County public schools are getting a good idea of how their performance in the classroom can affect their futures after high school.

At least that's what the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education is hoping to make clear through its statewide Achievement Counts program.

In Washington County, the initiative is being sponsored by the Hagerstown Jaycees and the Chamber of Commerce. About 17 local business people, aged 22 to 35, volunteered and were trained to speak to the students.

The program is aimed at promoting a link between high school achievement and workplace success and making students aware that high school transcripts can be used by businesses when hiring new employees, according to Gidget Maffitt, chair of the local program.

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Maffitt, a tax auditor for the Department of Labor's Office of Unemployment Insurance, was one of the speakers to give interactive presentations Wednesday morning to 252 ninth-graders at Williamsport High School.

The group will be at Smithsburg and North Hagerstown high schools today and at South Hagerstown High School on Friday.

"That transcript is your ticket to the lifestyle you want to live," Maffitt told a group of students. "It's going to be very important for your future whether you're going to college or not."

In addition to high school transcripts, speakers discuss how much it would cost if students were to live on their own and what kind of wages they would need to support themselves.

The speakers said the average cost of living would be about $1,800, including rent, car payments, car insurance, food, utilities and spending money. Students would need to make about $15 to $20 an hour to get by, according to Maffitt.

"If you were a business, would you want to hire someone with bad grades?" Maffitt asked a group of students.

Chris Cornwell, 14, said the messages sunk in.

"It's real important to get a good job, because if you don't get a good job, then, really, you're not going to succeed in life," Cornwell said. "I really didn't even know about the transcripts until now."

Cornwell said he plans to become a veterinarian.

"I learned that you should complete your goals to the fullest," said Whitney Stotler, 14. Stotler said she wants to be a veterinary technician.

Jim Kercheval, owner of Kerch's Ribs & Chicken, thinks Achievement Counts is one of the top programs in the state. Kercheval is a speaker and member of the Jaycees.

"It's eye-opening and it really caught (the students') attention. We're telling kids they need to start now," Kercheval said.

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