Jasper students were pumped about the visitor they got Tuesday morning.

Jasper students were pumped about the visitor they got Tuesday morning.

Elementary students pointed and whispered as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon walked through the Jasper R-5 School District's new cafeteria/safe room.

Joscelyn Pennington and Journey Simpson, two third graders, were excited to get the chance to shake Nixon's hand.

Junior high students in Jared Jeffries' agriculture class had some tough questions for Nixon.

“Why are all these people here?” asked one student, pointing to the people in suits and uniforms who accompanied Nixon. “Not in a disrespectful way, but you've got cops and stuff here. Why?”

“First of all, where ever I go is my office, because I'm governor 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Nixon replied. “So if something happens that I have to deal with, like, when we got here, we went to the superintendent's office and I had to make a phone call on some stuff that's happening in Jeff City. So where I go, where ever I am, because I'm not going to it the entire time I'm governor in my office in Jeff City, I have to have the capacity to, in essence, run your government from wherever I am.

“So if something happens, if you have a natural disaster or we have a piece of legislation or I have to call some company that we're working with trying to get them to invest dollars in our state, I have to be able to do that where ever I go in the state. Consequently, when a governor travels, your office goes with you.”

Nixon was in Jasper to congratulate the district on being one of 118 schools in Missouri to receive the A+ designation, which allows Jasper graduates to earn scholarships for two years of tuition and fees at any of Missouri's public community colleges.

In January, Gov. Nixon set a goal of giving every student in the state the opportunity to earn an A+ Scholarship. With this announcement, 266 schools have earned the A+ designation since Gov. Nixon took office and 99 percent of Missouri’s public high school students will now have the opportunity to earn A+ Scholarships.

“Investing in education is the best economic development there is. That’s why we are continuing to provide record funding for Missouri’s K-12 classrooms and increasing access to the A+ schools program,” Nixon said. “By ensuring that every student can receive a quality education and begin their higher education right after high school, we are preparing our workforce to compete and win in the global economy. With the latest round of schools receiving the A+ designation, including Jasper R-5 High School, we are closer than ever to achieving my goal of making this opportunity available to every eligible student in the state.”

Superintendent Rick Stark said a visit by the governor of Missouri to a small school like Jasper is a rare event, and students were excited.

“I was real impressed with the junior high group, the way they were able to ask a lot of questions,” Stark said. “I would have liked to have seen more of that with the high school students. I think along with surprise, the students were impressed by the visit.”