Mr. CLYBURN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize an innovative program taking place to incentivize students at a Jasper County, South Carolina middle school. Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School is in a rural, persistent poverty county where more than 20 percent of its population has lived below the poverty line for the last 30 years. Eighty-eight percent of the students who attend Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School qualify for free or reduced lunch. Yet the Jasper County School Superintendent Vashti Washington is working hard to encourage students in this school to focus on their academics raise their self esteem and dream of better of futures.
I am pleased the James E. Clyburn Research and Scholarship Foundation is underwriting the cost of Dr. Washington's program to provide school letters and pins to students at Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle who meet certain criteria established by the school. Students will be awarded letters and pins for certain levels of achievements in the classroom, on PASS tests, and several other extracurricular activities, just as many schools do for athletics. These letters and pins are intended to set up healthy competition among students and to recognize and incentivize their achievements and performances.
I want to highlight four of the students who have demonstrated the drive and dedication needed to earn this recognition. All four of these students have received ``exemplary'' in at least four areas of PASS testing, which assesses the knowledge of students in the core academic areas of writing, English, math, science, and social studies.
Amber Crosby is an eighth grader who scored exemplary in all five areas of the PASS test. She is an award-winning artist who attended a Visual Arts Summer Academy, and she is also working on her first novel. She is on the principal's honor roll and attributes much of her success to the values instilled in her by her parents who taught her the importance of her diverse heritage, which includes Polish, Russian, Irish, British and Native American descendants. Amber aspires to be an artist or work in veterinary medicine.
Lorena Escobar is an eighth grader from Hardeeville who takes her academics very seriously. An honor roll student, she is currently enrolled in Algebra I Honors, English I Honors and Spanish I. She enjoys drawing and music, and spending time with her parents and her younger sister. Lorena is passionate about eliminating bullying.
Kaleb Frazier is a seventh grade honors student. His favorite subjects are writing and math. He is also very athletic and plays linebacker for the school football team. In his spare time he writes rap music and spends time with his family. Kaleb hopes one day to be an attorney or a computer engineer.
Cynthia Simental-Parra is a seventh grade student from Hardeeville. She loves math and history and describes herself as ``artsy.'' She enjoys singing, drawing and sewing, and is a member of band and chorus. She is also active in track and soccer. Cynthia would like to become a singer, but if that doesn't work out she would consider running for President of the United States.
These are just four of the outstanding students that will be recognized with a school letter from Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle. It is my sincere hope that they will continue to be wonderful examples to their classmates and that they encourage others to earn their letters as well.
Mr. Speaker, I offer my great appreciation to Superintendent Washington for implementing this visionary program at Hardeeville-Ridgeland Middle School. It is my hope that through such positive reinforcement these and other students will work hard and attain their dreams.