The Conway County School Counts! Steering Committee recently invited Shekinna Stricklen—Morrilton High School (MHS) graduate and University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball standout—to speak to middle school and junior high-age students in Conway County about the importance of school attendance and maintaining good grades in anticipation of continuing their education beyond high school. Stricklen is an Arkansas Scholar, and she emphasized the goals and overall importance of the School Counts! initiative very effectively during her presentations to students at Morrilton Junior High School, Nemo Vista, and Sacred Heart School. Students from Wonderview Schools also attended the presentation at Nemo Vista.
Stricklen said “You should all be setting goals about what you want to do when you get older and stick with them. If you attend class every day, work with your counselor, and keep your grades up, you will be prepared to manage your life in the real world.” 2009 MHS graduate Latoya McCoy also attended the presentations, reiterating the importance of taking AP classes and working hard in each class. Shelley Davis, who coached both Stricklen and McCoy in high school, called the two “great examples of what hard work and dedication can do for anyone.”
According to the School Counts! Steering Committee Chair Thomas Flowers, “We are very pleased to have Shekinna here with us to help inspire Conway County students not only through her great athleticism but also through her great belief in the importance of higher education. We want to thank her for taking the time to share her thoughts on education with us all.”
In early 2007, representatives from local secondary schools in Conway County, the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM), and the local business community announced the Conway County School Counts! initiative. The initiative promotes the value of education and gives every student in Conway County the opportunity to continue his or her education beyond high school. The School Counts! initiative will provide financial support for high school graduates, resulting in a better-prepared workforce that will make the area more attractive to companies looking to expand or move in. The School Counts! initiative stresses the importance of developing the skills and attitudes needed to be competitive in today’s workforce such as quality, attendance, persistence, and goal setting.
One goal of the School Counts! initiative is to endow a scholarship fund for students who meet the criteria and do not have other scholarships or grants. This fund is designated to provide any Conway County high school graduate who meet the “SCHOOL COUNTS!” criteria with a $1000 scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton.