“We want to reward students today for the hard work they put in for an entire school year,” said Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich. “The students should all be very proud of themselves, and also give a big hug and thanks to their parents, grandparents and anyone else who helped them get to school each day.”
Sponsors of the DA’s bikes-for-perfect-attendance incentive program included the Hyde Family Foundation, FedEx, Walmart, Monogram Foods and the Rotary Club of Memphis.
This year members of the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club donated helmets, t-shirts and safety materials to the students, and helped make sure the bikes and helmets were good fits.
This is the fourth year for the program. The 249 students with perfect attendance were from Alton Elementary, Aspire Coleman, Aspire East, Aspire Hanley 1 & 2, Chickasaw Middle, Ford Road Elementary, Georgian Hills Middle, Hawkins Mill Elementary, Hickory Ridge Elementary, Hickory Ridge Middle, Magnolia Elementary, Ridgeway Middle and Winridge Middle. All of the schools participate in the DA’s Truancy Reduction Program.
During the academic year 2005-06, a DA’s office review of crime and truancy statistics showed that one-quarter of juvenile crime in Memphis occurred during school hours away from campuses, most likely involving truant or expelled students.
In response, the office’s Truancy Reduction Initiative was created the following school year to identify at-risk students with excessive unexcused absences and to provide assistance to students, parents and faculty to reduce truancy rates.
Since that time, truancy rates have declined each year at the participating schools.
The voluntary program matches truant students with trained mentors from the community who work with them and emphasize the importance of daily school attendance. The truancy mentors are recruited from businesses, churches, colleges and volunteer organizations to work at least one year with the students and make weekly contact with the student. A mentor advocate from the DA’s office also is involved.
To find out how to become a mentor contact Megan Pietrowski, coordinator of the Truancy Reduction Program and Special Assistant to the District Attorney General, at 901-222-1395, or complete the application here: http://scdag.com/images/mentoring/MentorApplication.pdf