In honor of AARP's founder and its 50th anniversary being celebrated in 2008, AARP created The Ethel Percy Andrus Legacy Award for Innovation. A $10,000 prize will be awarded to one public secondary school (grades 8 - 12) in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands in recognition of an innovative program or practice currently operating in a school. The winning schools were officially announced on February 7, 2008.
The 50th anniversary celebration also includes the The Ethel Percy Andrus Legacy Awards, a $100,000 prize that will be awarded to a public high school (grades 8 - 12) in cities that have been selected as focal points for AARP's 50th Anniversary celebration. Those cities are Chicago, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Learn more about this $100,000 Legacy award.
Public high school principals in every state, DC, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were invited submit a brief description of a program or practice that has enhanced student achievement or contributed to an improved environment for the students, the school, or the community served by the school. One public high school from each state will receive a $10,000 award. This awards program has been established as part of AARP's 50th anniversary celebration.
Alabama Central High School, Phenix City
Students raised $47,000 to design and build "Friendship Park," a handicapped- accessible community playground. They are expanding their efforts to build a splash park and are only $ 15,000 short of their fundraising goal.
Alaska East Anchorage High School, Anchorage
Students in Anchorage's largest, most diverse school created three programs for school unity. "Change of Heart" and "Be the Change" pair upperclass students with freshmen and sophomores. In the third, Partners Club, kids with and without disabilities mix through sports and social activities.
Arizona Carl Hayden High School, Phoenix
To help students participate in the National Underwater Robotics Challenge, a robotics club was formed with a university and a foundation. The club encouraged Hispanics and girls to participate in engineering. Many are now in college with scholarships.
Arkansas Northside High School, Fort Smith
Students at risk of dropping out form the core of JAG (Jobs for America's Graduates), a program to involve kids in society. In JAG, they learn life skills, such as cooking and sewing. With those, they make quilts for homeless people, mend clothes for the needy, and provide other community services.
California Ulysses S. Grant Sr. High School, Valley Glen
Parents, students, and teachers at the school created a Serenity Garden. The garden engages students and the community through a butterfly sanctuary, wildlife habitat, learning about horticulture, and gardening opportunities for older residents.
Colorado Rangeview High School, Aurora
Math Café, a relaxed environmnent where cookies and hot drinks are served, offers extra learning time for students to improve their arithmetic skills. It's an opportunity for teachers to reach out to students for whom English is a second language to help them master math concepts.
Connecticut Middletown High School, Middletown
In a community with more than 40 percent minorities, the school launched Link Crew. It helps middle-schools students make the transition to high school. Calling on a diverse group of upperclass students, Link Crew set up mentoring relationships for 400 eighth-graders. Freshman are disciplined at a 47 percent lower rate.
Delaware Seaford Senior High School, Seaford
The Advanced Placement Incentive Program supports minority families to help their children succeed in AP classes. The number of minorities enrolled in AP has grown from one to 55 students. Another group, Seaford Parents for the Education of African American Kids (SPEAK), tutors African-American males.
DC CHOICE Academy Senior High School, Washington, D.C.
Choosing Higher Options for Individualized Centered Education (CHOICE) Academy is an alternative school for students who have been expelled from their base schools. By providing academic support, by coaching improved behavior, and by offering internships, the school is helping students succeed.
Florida Pompano Beach High School, Pompano Beach
Students participate in the Global Learning Initiative for the Digital Education of Students (GLIDES). The project integrates five diverse curriculum areas into learning experiences that have connected students with classrooms in Ghana, Japan, and Spain, as well as with younger students in their own community.
High School Visual and Performing Arts Magnet Program Atlanta Academics and concentrated visual and performing arts training are taught in tandem and are available to motivated, gifted students. Extensive community outreach and support helps fund a wide array of programs.
Hawaii Kihei Charter School, Kihei
The school has developed a hands-on Outdoor Science Program in marine biology for its juniors and seniors. Students work with scientific organizations to design, implement, and report on original, inquiry-based research that connects classroom math and technology concepts to real-world applications.
Idaho Cascade Jr./Sr. High School, Cascade
The Advanced Research Lab enables juniors and seniors to use science in a community-based science project. They have begun transforming a swampy dumping site into a fishing park for elderly, disabled, and young people. Students also research ways to improve the water quality of a local pond.
Illinois Lewistown Community High School, Lewiston
The school's Tube Band uses plumbing and kitchen utensils to create instruments and perfomance modules to keep kids from using drugs, bullying, and other destructive behaviors. Students have performed for everyone from Kindergarteners to senior groups.
Indiana Seeger Jr./Sr. High School, West Lebanon
After the school and community in this rural area of Indiana agreed to work together to address obesity, a fitness facility was built. More than 2,000 members of the community use the facility along with students, who each graduate with a fitness plan.
Iowa Garner-Hayfield High School, Garner
YIELD (Youth Investing Energy in Leadership Development) unites the school district, the Chamber of Commerce, and a community coalition to support juniors who exhibit potential and leadership skills. Students plan and lead their own community project. Each receives mentoring from a local businessperson.
Kansas Paola High School, Paola
The formation of a Robotics Team through the FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program has brought together teachers, professionals, and retired educators, to help students build competitive robots. 98 percent of team members go to college.
Kentucky Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green
The school made efforts to increase the number of Advanced Placement (AP) students by engaging them in daily study sessions and in challenging coursework. There has been an 80 percent increase in the number of students taking the AP exams with a 70 percent pass rate.
Louisiana "C.E. Byrd High School", Shreveport
Using distance-learning technology, this large magnet school shares its high-quality faculty and advanced coursework with two smaller schools in the area. Without Byrd High School's contribution, students at the smaller schools would not be able to take AP calculus and other important courses.
Maine Carrabec High School, North Anson
Using a weight-training program to transform lives, the Will Power Center brings together faculty, students, and community members. Participants support each other's commitment to exceed their former physical and mental limits through rigorous workouts and tutoring.
Maryland Eastern Technical High School, Baltimore
To help address the teacher shortage, the school created the Teacher Academy of Maryland. Students there can declare education to be a four-year "career major." By 2009-2010, nearly 100 students will have matriculated from the program with early preparation for a career in teaching.
Massachusetts Community Academy, Roxbury
A former alternative school for expelled students has transformed itself into a vibrant, diploma-granting institution. With student, faculty, and community support, the school is no longer a place with low expectations; instead it is a place where many of the school system's most difficult students are thriving.
Michigan North Farmington High School, Farmington Hills
An Interdisciplinary Study Committee teaches students to interpret and to ponder real-world issues, such as the Vietnam War, human rights, and the evolution of Detroit. Experts and community members add to the learning process by connecting the school to the greater community.
Minnesota St. Paul Central High School, Saint Paul
Young African American men form the core of Seeds of Change, a multifaceted program to address the achievement gap. Local African American role models and leaders teach students how to set goals, to use creative writing for self-expression, and to tap into a support system that helps improve their lives.
Mississippi Columbia High School, Columbia
A reward program has reduced truancy and motivated students to perform to their best abilities. The school bought season tickets to nearby New Orleans Saints football games. Students who demonstrate desired behaviors "earn" the privilege of attending a game.
Missouri "North Callaway High School", Kingdom City
A Digital Outreach Program enables students to rebuild and refurbish donated computers and give them to schoolmates, community members, and Ugandan orphanages. The program teaches practical problem-solving and fosters community involvement and social responsibility
Montana Broadwater High School, Townsend
Kids and staff use the school district's radio station to broadcast music, lunch menus, news about community events, coursework, and their own creative writing. To prepare, students take a semester class to learn the art and business of broadcasting.
Nebraska Papillion-La Vista South Public High School, Papillion
The Titan Pyramid provides a structure to help students succeed through extensive homework tracking and tutoring. The school quickly identifies students needing support and intervenes to provide formal study time.
Nevada Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas
A team of teachers offers average students the Clark Challenge: an opportunity to take honors classes. Rigorous coursework, combined with support as needed, enabled 100 percent of the first Challenge class to graduate. Of those, 90 percent (most first-generation college students), went on to college.
New Hampshire Merrimack Valley High School, Penacook
A Freshman Academy has helped ninth-graders successfully switch to high school. Academic support for struggling students abounds. The school provides after-school programs and study-skills courses.
New Jersey SCESC Academic Alternative High School, Raritan
The "Green Team" gets students involved in projects that develop awareness of environmental responsibility, societal obligation, and personal accountability. Among the activities kids engage in to benefit the school and the community are maintenance projects, gardening, and fundraising for the needy.
New Mexico West Mesa High School, Albuquerque
The "We Can Do Better" Ninth Grade Academy gives students and their parents high levels of support. Almost 1000 freshmen joined the Academy, a community within the school that monitors all aspects of kids' education. Students receive personal support they would not otherwise get.
New York Middle Early College High School, Buffalo
This school is composed of at-risk students who seem to have untapped potential. After completing the five-year high school program, each student will have earned a diplomas and an Associate Degree from Erie Community College.
North Carolina Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville
To help ninth graders experience academic success and successfully move to high school, the school organized a Freshman Academy. By building a support network of teachers and upperclass students for the Academy, the school helps freshmen develop a sense of community and public service.
North Dakota Kulm High School, Kulm
Starting with distributing handheld computers to students and teachers, the school has changed the way it does "business." Technology has encouraged higher levels of engagement: Reading and math proficiency has increased from 45 to 89 percent in reading and have reached 83 percent in math.
Ohio North Olmsted High School, North Olmsted
The SITES program gives seniors opportunities to volunteer in the community and to study history and literature to analyze social concerns, including ageism and civic duty. The program's Living History Project preserves local history by exposing seniors to the oral histories of WWII vets and of older residents.
Oklahoma Indianola High School, Indianola
The school's Future Farmers of America chapter offers timely and meaningful support to seniors in the community by clearing debris after storms, serving Thanksgiving meals, and preparing Christmas gift bags. The school fulfills its obligation to make the community better.
Oregon Hermiston High School, Hermiston
Increasing the number of students attending college or trade school, Project College Bound involves the entire community. Its "College 101" seminar helps parents of first-generation applicants to see the value of post-secondary education. Last year, project graduates received $1.5 million in scholarships.
Pennsylvania Norristown High School, Norristown
The Family Advocacy System enables small groups of students to meet weekly with a specially certified faculty member to review academic progress, to set goals, and to make a post-graduation plan. The system gives students' families a caring link between home and school.
Puerto Rico Escuela Superior de la Comunidad Jaime A., Collazo del Río
Morovis By providing civic and environmental education, the Citizens of the World Club teaches kids how to be involved in global society. They develop leadership skills and civic consciousness through activities such as a campaign to build awareness of the stigma of poverty and a project to clean up a polluted beach.
Rhode Island Mt. Hope High School, Bristol
An initiative called the Proficiency-Based Diploma has helped change the school. Teachers re-examined their roles and made inquiry, investigation, and exploration priorities. Now students also have their own digital portfolios.
South Carolina Hanna Westside Extension Campus, Anderson
Kids here converted a lovely but dilapidated storage facility into a state-of-the-art, student-run conference, catering, and B&B center. Students involved in construction, landscaping, interior design, metalwork, culinary arts, accounting, Web desgn, and more--all worked together to complete the project.
South Dakota Chester Area Cyber School, Chester
Most students in a Huetterite Colony never attended school beyond eighth grade; however, the Chester Area Cyber School now provides online instruction for Colony students via an intranet. The initial plan hoped to reach 15 or 20 students in eight Colonies but now serves 260 students in 26 Colonies.
Tennessee Lenoir City High School, Lenoir City
The Freshman Initiative helps ninth-graders make a smooth transition by promoting parental involvement, encouraging better attendance, and providing academic, social, and behavioral support. Absences and disciplinary infractions have dropped dramatically since the program started.
Texas Corsicana High School, Corsicana
The ATTACK squad (All-Tiger Teachers Advocating for Corsicana Kids) give students formal advocates and mentors. A teacher, principal, counselor, aide, or secretary is assigned to a student for four years. Many fruitful relationships emerge among the students, their families, and the school.
Utah Milford High School, Milford
The program Educational Focus has helped students improve basic math and language-arts skills. The school day was lengthened. Scores for mastery of math core objectives have increased from 54 to 67 percent and, for language arts, the percentage increased from 64 to 78 percent.
Vermont Montpelier High School, Montpelier
The Sustainability Group aims to make the school a model of sustainability by reducing the ecological footprint of the school. Using lumber made from fallen trees, students have built a greenhouse to grow food for the cafeteria.
Virgin Islands St. Croix Educational Complex, Kingshill
The ELMER (Enhancing Literacy Through Math, English, and Reading) program helps low-performing students master the basic skills of mathematics, algebra, reading, and English. The school restructured its classes to create a good environment for academic achievement.
Virginia Colonial Forge High School, Stafford
Interactive technology helps kids perform well on the state's standardized tests. Students practice the tests on wireless laptops, workstations, and with handheld-response systems that enable a teacher to readily identify areas of weakness before the high-stakes testing.
Washington Wahluke High School, Mattawa
Test scores for verbal skills were low. The school helped students improve their skills by placing them in English classes by ability level rather than grade level. Low-performing students received twice-daily classes. Kids who needed extra help had evening classes where pizza was served.
West Virginia George Washington High School, Charleston
The faculty concentrated on encouraging students to participate in Advance Placement (AP) classes. Their effort has helped lower college costs for students who pass the AP tests, since the kids receive college credit. The number of students taking AP tests increased by 139 percent in four years.
Wisconsin Dodgeland High School, Juneau
Alarming statistics about local students with poor nutritional habits prompted the school to implement a health and wellness initiative, "Commit to Be Fit." The school is designing an outdoor fitness trail to augment noon-hour intramural games and after-school fintness activities.
Wyoming Wheatland High School, Wheatland
The school began the Freshman Success Program to ensure that all students achieve and graduate. Developed by teachers, the program features a team-building challenge course, extra study support, and parental outreach. In its first year, freshman grade failures were reduced by 50 percent.