Take time to notice

Sep 17, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

We started our newspaper's Student of the Week program in 1983. Today it resumes for year No. 35.

It will culminate in May with the announcement of the 10 Fremont County Students of the Year, representing all the participating high schools and Central Wyoming College.

We'll award a $500 scholarship to each. But that's still months away.

The Student of the Year recognition is the gold at the end of the rainbow, but like the weekly Student of the Week recognition even better. It's the part of the program that shows the full array and diversity of our young people's achievements, distinctions, individuality and hopes.

The weekly program's strength is that a Student of the Week doesn't have to be the best at everything -- or even the best at anything, truth be told.

Yes, each school's eventual Student of the Year will come from the list of approximately 35 Students of the Week, but it's the remaining students-- the ones who aren't the students of the year -- who are bread and butter of the program for nine months

For them, the weekly recognition is, we hope, fun and rewarding for the students, the schools, the newspaper and its readers. If things work well, it might even be inspiring.

We know that's the case for regular Student of the Week readers, who watch each Sunday for the small pictures and brief "blurbs" about the weekly honorees.

For readers, it's a chance to see a young person they might remember as a small child, a neighbor, a former Little League or youth soccer player, a newspaper carrier or that kid from Sunday school.

There's a "my-how-she's-grown" appeal to Student of the Week that links readers to students to schools to families. We like it when the newspaper helps that happen. We've been at this awhile now.

And, with a student being selected every week, the schools must get creative. Not every selection is going to be the valedictorian, all-state musician, class president or starting quarterback. For some honorees, Student of the Week is simply an opportunity to be recognized for doing something well, something different, or something right.

It might mean a kid who used to skip school now has perfect attendance. It might mean a student who used to barely get passing grades now is getting a solid B average. It might mean a girl who helps out a younger student with math homework. Perhaps it's the kid who didn't make the football team but still hustles the sidelines as the manager, or the adult college student who finds a way to make job, family and school coexist in her life.

Some students earn the honor by changing their habits -- cutting down tardiness, turning work in on time, or just adopting a better attitude in the classroom and the hallways.

These, in large part, are the Students of the Week, and their stories begin today. It's one the most rewarding things we do, and one of the most interesting.

We shower the school coordinators with thanks in advance for doing their best to find good candidates for the honor and who strive to meet our deadlines and other requirements to keep the production process running smoothly. In house, Lander Journal production staffer Beau Pitt writes up the weekly descriptions of the students and serves as our primary liaison with the schools from now until May.

And, readers, remember this: The sponsors on the Student of the Week page make it all possible. If they weren't there, the program would not exist.

The elite students with perfect grades, unique abilities and other outstanding achievements will always get plenty of recognition. But we're glad there's also a place -- both in the schools and in the newspaper -- for other deserving students to be recognized for the things they do.

That place is Student of the Week. For the next nine months, please take time to notice.

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