A room full of Carthaginians have their focus on local students, their needs and aspirations for a brighter future.

A room full of Carthaginians have their focus on local students, their needs and aspirations for a brighter future.

Tuesday morning at the Carthage Water & Electric community room, members of the community gathered to organize the Bright Futures site councils. The program, directed by Scott Ragsdale, (also principal of Pleasant Valley) is a local approach to connect the community’s resources with students in need. To pinpoint students’ needs, each school in the district has a site council, comprised of parents, business, faith and civic leaders in the community. Tuesday’s meeting was about all of the councils getting on the same page to meet the program’s goal.

“I know sometimes it’s difficult to know how to help,” said Ragsdale. “We have a very generous community, and the goal of this meeting is to help create venues to get students the help they need. We are future focused in Carthage – we are always looking ahead. The goal is beyond graduation for our students – no matter what building they’re in – they are a part of our community. These high percentages of our students living in poverty are real. And we can be mad about it, or we can do something about it. That’s what’s great about Bright Futures. We have the opportunity to help give our students the skills to succeed after graduation.”

When a student in the Carthage School District has a need, it is traditionally identified by a teacher. The teacher then reports the need to the site council, and if the need cannot be met by the council, the need is reported to the Bright Futures administration. The goal and result of this system is the student’s need is met, and the student can then focus on his/her education and find a bright future.

Ragsdale reported the graduation rate has climbed from 73 percent to 89 percent in the past seven years, and the Bright Futures program will help continue Carthage’s academic achievements in the district.

With the help of VISTA coordinator Sarah Johnson at the Bright Futures office (800 Grant St.) Bright Futures will continue fundraising and organize specific drives. Such as, currently there is a sock drive that will continue through Dec. 13. Donations of socks may be made at SMB Bank and the Carthage Chamber of Commerce.
Other needs currently are: middle and junior high-level books; boys’ shoes; school boxes and donations of food for the weekly Backpack Program that feeds kids over the weekends.

The Bright Futures-Carthage Advisory Board members are: Blaine Henningsen, Janet Clem, Mark Elliff, Amy Grimes, Laurel Rosenthal, John Nichols and Tony Allmoslecher.
To reach the Bright Futures office, call 417-758-0899.

By the Numbers
Carthage schools' populations and the percentage of those populations on the Free/Reduced Lunch program.
Pleasant Valley    152  -  69.2%
Mark Twain        293  -  61.6%
Fairview        442   -     87.6%
Columbian     470  -      89.7%
Steadley        497    -    55.6%
Carthage Middle School    697  -  65.2%
Carthage Junior High School        681 -  59.7%
Carthage High School        1,241  -     55.1%

A total of 2,907 Carthage kids are living in poverty.
Information courtesy of the Carthage R-9 School District.