Local students, educators show excellence

From parents to politicians, blue collar workers to business moguls, Americans never tire of talking about the value of a good education. It’s one of those shared goals to which everybody pays lip service.

But this week our community gets an opportunity to do more than just talk.

This week, as they’ve done every year for the past 20, businesses and organizations in Marquette and Alger counties are recognizing the area’s top high school seniors during Excellence in Education Week events.

More than 70 area high school students and the teachers they named as influential educators were recognized during Monday night’s 20th annual Excellence in Education awards program. Representing the top 5 percent of their class, 47 students from districts throughout Marquette and Alger counties each received a $1,500 scholarship to be used to further their education at a university or college of their choice.

This is one program that clearly shows education is a high priority locally. We agree with Amy Quinn, president-elect of the Great Lakes Center for Youth Development, which hosts the annual event, when she said EEW is an absolute boon to the area – a tonic for much of the critical and negative talk that surrounds education debates.

“So many times, the general public hears about budget cuts and the things that are going wrong with education, and I think to be able to stop for a night and celebrate the top 5 percent in Marquette and Alger counties is really important,” Quinn said.

Since the program started in 1994 – a partnership between businesses, schools, foundations and GLCYD – nearly $1.9 million has been awarded through EEW academic scholarships to 960 students. Professional development awards have been made to 496 teachers and school administrators.

The banquet Monday at Northern Michigan University was just the beginning of the week-long EEW program; tours and celebrations are scheduled through Friday from the west end of Marquette county to Gwinn.

These students, and the teachers who’ve inspired them, deserve the fuss the community is making. They’ve worked hard on their academics for years and have gone largely unheralded outside the classroom. We’re happy to take the opportunity to tell them how proud we are of their achievements.