How does a school raise the bar when many students already excel academically and behaviorally? That was the “happy problem” Marina Village Middle School’s assistant principal Cindy Giove said staff faced until this year’s graduating eighth-grade class was challenged to earn the Mustang Pride award as incoming sixth graders.
“It stretches students to have the full middle school experience,” Giove told Village Life. “We have great kids in this community. They’re getting good grades and they have excellent behavior. Ninety-five of our eighth-graders, or 40 percent, have never lost a merit. That’s huge.”
However, many kids don’t take advantage of the clubs, sports and leadership opportunities Marina has to offer, Giove explained.
To earn the award students must earn 100 cumulative points during the course of sixth, seventh and eighth grades, spanning three categories:
1. Academics, attendance and behavior
2. Character, service and leadership
3. Clubs, athletics and activities
The remaining 25 points may be dispersed throughout the categories and a form must be submitted to Giove by the end of each school year to be eligible.
“We started with about 36 students who made an initial run at it as sixth graders,” said Giove. “As the years go by the challenge gets greater to keep your grades up and do what you need to do.”
The four eighth-graders who earned the first, 2014 Mustang Pride award are “actors, athletes, musicians. They encompass everything,” said Giove. “They’re pretty incredible.”
Sarah Lundell, 14, said striving for the award got her out of her comfort zone. “It made me try new things like track and field,” she told Village Life. “I would have never found out how much I love high jump without this.”
Giove said Sarah was also recognized as “Best of the Best” by her eighth-grade team of teachers because, “She always shows up and does what she needs to do, but it’s always done with a sweet attitude.”
Tyler Barth, 14, gave the speech at the promotion ceremony because “He’s at the top academically and does a great deal of community service,” said Giove. “He has a clear vision of his college and post-college career and does everything with a smile on his face.”
“In 6th grade I was immediately drawn to the award,” said Tyler. “Although it was difficult to gather all 100 points, I got the chance to participate in many extracurricular activities and school clubs. By excelling in academics, character and leadership, the award serves as a souvenir of my experience at Marina.”
Brycen Groess, 14, is involved in many extracurricular activities as well. “Brycen is one of those young men who’s fun and outgoing but he always does the right things,” said Giove. “I love that his personality comes through in all he does.”
“Earning the award taught me valuable time management skills,” said Brycen. “The hardest part was finding time in the schedule already filled with homework and sports for even more. Now that all of the hard work has passed I know that the pride in receiving this award will last forever.”
Emily Bobrowsky, 13, was also attributed as “Best of the Best” from her eighth-grade team of teachers for consistently being on top of her work and being kind and courteous. “She consistently shows up and brings her best and doesn’t do it for recognition,” Giove said.
“I think the hardest part of the award was keeping good grades and participating in activities,” said Emily. “You have to be very responsible to make sure you turn in your sheets and watch how many points you have. I am very excited that I got this award all on my own.”
Though the award allows students to experience all that middle school has to offer, “It’s all about creating a positive environment and inspiring kids to be their best,” said Giove.
The physical award alone is enough to lure students, said Giove. “It’s big and crystal; it’s really beautiful,” she said. “We start showing it to students in sixth grade and at the end of each trimester we’ll say, ‘Did you get all A’s? That’s five points. Did you get all B’s? That’s two points.’”
During eighth-grade promotion on May 29 it was the only honor when students were called up individually, Giove explained. “It is by far the most prestigious award that can be received at Marina.”