If you want a lesson in resiliency, you don’t have to look far. Just point yourself in the direction of the nearest school, where many kids provide daily examples.
For instance: students who come from split families and single-part families, who have had to deal with tragedy and loss; students who have had to work through communication barriers that impacted their studies; and students who have persevered through cancer diagnosis and other health ailments.
It is our goal to tell several of these inspirational stories in the coming weeks as part of a program called Extra Effort that we are launching in the Chippewa Valley. The program will honor high school seniors who have overcome challenges or provided exemplary service to the community, often with little recognition.
Extra Effort is about students on the verge of adulthood who have tales of struggle, illness and survival, or of making a dedicated effort to give back to the community. Their road hasn’t typically been an easy one. They likely aren’t star athletes or valedictorians. They probably don’t have perfect grades. But many of them have overcome tremendous odds, and the one thing they all have in common is the way they can inspire.
All area high schools have been invited to take part. The Chippewa Herald and our sister paper, the Dunn County News in Menomonie, will publish profiles of a student from each school in the coming weeks. Our first one will appear in Monday’s Herald.
We are partnering in this program with the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Technical College, to recognize and provide some scholarship assistance to the Extra Effort winners. The three institutions will take turns in hosting a spring reception for the students who are chosen to represent their schools. This year’s reception will be hosted by UW-Eau Claire on Wednesday, May 21.
Extra Effort is based on a program that our fellow Lee papers in La Crosse and Winona, Minn., in conjunction with its higher-ed institutions, have been operating for several years. The program has been extremely well received by the public and the educational community.
“We’re very fortunate to develop this dynamic partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Stout and UW-Eau Claire to honor some high school seniors who have overcome obstacles or provided exemplary service to their communities,” Herald Publisher Rusty Cunningham said. “Our programs in La Crosse and Winona have recognized and provided scholarship help to some courageous students who otherwise wouldn’t have received the recognition they deserve,” Cunningham said.
It is our plan to make Extra Effort a beloved yearly tradition in the Chippewa Valley, just as it has become in the River Valley.
“I can honestly say that this program tops my list as a favorite part of my career, because this recognition is nothing less than life-changing for these kids and an inspiration for us all,” says Patty Shepard, a counselor at Holmen High School. She said she could probably name every one of her school’s recipients and is in contact with many of them, all of whom continue to succeed.
“The Extra Effort program is an incredible endeavor that connects the area businesses and post-secondary institutions with our schools and most importantly, highlights the value of our youth through their incredible stories. We are so very privileged to be part of this program,” Shepard said.
We are privileged to be able to tell the stories of our 2014 Extra Effort recipients. They are deserving of your time, just as the subjects are deserving of your admiration.