Main Street Academy teach­ers and staff hon­ored

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Janelle Jessen Staff Writer ■

Teach­ers and school staff were the stars of the Friends of the Main Street Academy fundraiser, held at the Cy­press Barn on Thurs­day evening.

The 14 teach­ers who serve the al­ter­na­tive high school walked the red car­pet during the event and were given Os­car awards for their ded­i­ca­tion to stu­dents during the event, which was themed “We all Dream in Gold.” To­gether, fac­ulty mem­bers rep­re­sented 75 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion.

“I’m so grate­ful that the teach­ers and staff were hon­ored specif­i­cally be­cause what they do ev­ery day is amaz­ing and they do it be­cause they want to be there,” said Prin­ci­pal Michele Markovich. “They don’t even re­al­ize how spe­cial it is that they’re do­ing it be­cause it is just nat­u­ral to them, and I”m so glad that they got to see the re­sponse that it is spe­cial to them.”

Main Street Academy is an al­ter­na­tive school for the Siloam Springs and Gen­try School Dis­tricts, ac­cord­ing to Markovich. It serves about 90 stu­dents in grades nine through 12. The school pro­vides in­ter­ven­tion through small class size, spe­cially trained teach­ers, em­pha­sis on so­cial com­pe­ten­cies, ser­vices and ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing field trips, she said. School staff mem­bers also work to pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment that fos­ters peace, un­der­stand­ing suc­cess and hope.

Some Main Street Academy stu­dents tran­si­tion back to tra­di­tional high school, while oth­ers com­plete their grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments at the al­ter­na­tive school. Each year be­tween 30 to 60 stu­dents com­plete their grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments at Main Street Academy, Markovich said.

The fundraiser in­cluded a home­made din­ner and dessert, pre­pared by Friends of the Main

Street Academy Board mem­bers. The evening also in­clude en­ter­tain­ment by ac­tor B.J. John­ston and mu­sic by his wife Karen John­ston, as well as a live and silent auc­tion.

Main Street Academy stu­dents dec­o­rated pump­kins to be auc­tioned off and sev­eral stu­dents were able to at­tend the event.

Markovich said that while the food and en­ter­tain­ment was fan­tas­tic, the real rea­son peo­ple come to the Main Street Academy fundraiser is they want to help stu­dents change their lives.

“Deep down in our hearts we are all here be­cause we want to be part of a lifechang­ing story,” she said. “Be­cause we con­nect to that, be­cause some­where, some­body in our past, be­lieved in us at a mo­ment when we weren’t able to do ev­ery­thing for our­selves that we needed to do.”

Markovich pointed out that every­one has dreams but said that some­times those dreams get buried be­cause of cir­cum­stances that can­not be con­trolled.

“This is what we’re called to do as human be­ings, to come along­side some­body who needs help stand­ing, to stand in the gap for some­one who is strug­gling just a lit­tle bit,” Markovich said. “I’ve been there, I will con­tinue to be there. If you talk to these amaz­ing teach­ers and staff they will prob­a­bly all tell you an ex­am­ple of a time they had to stand in the gap for me and that’s just hu­man­ity.”

Some­times when stu­dents face dif­fi­cul­ties or un­fair sit­u­a­tions, they be­gin to get the mis­per­cep­tion that no­body cares or wants to help them. The fundraiser is a way to show stu­dents the com­mu­nity does care, she said.

Markovich said she has seen many life-chang­ing sto­ries at Main Street Academy over the years.

Sunny Nitro, a grad­u­ate of Main Street Academy, who shared her story with guests of last-year’s fundraiser re­turned this year to give an up­date on her suc­cess story. She re­cently grad­u­ated from the North­west Arkansas Com­mu­nity Col­lege and is ac­cepted into the Wal­ton Col­lege of Busi­ness at the Univer­sity of Arkansas. She hopes to con­tinue her ed­u­ca­tion with grad­u­ate school fo­cus­ing ei­ther on busi­ness or law.

Over the past five years, Friends of Main Street Academy has raised more than $50,000 for the school, although the re­sults of the sixth an­nual event on Thurs­day were still be­ing cal­cu­lated at press time. The funds have been used to pur­chase Google Chrome­books for the class­room, pro­vide schol­ar­ships for grad­u­ates to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion and to send stu­dents on field trips to places such as the Soderquist Cen­ter’s ropes course.

“When you cre­ate a lifechange for some­one that im­pacts gen­er­a­tions and we’re see­ing stu­dents who were the first in their fam­ily to grad­u­ate, over­come great ob­sta­cles,” Markovich said. “Friends of Main Street of­fers schol­ar­ships to stu­dents when­ever they’re ready to use them, so they may get those schol­ar­ships but they may not be ready for sev­eral years. When they do (they) know that money is there for them.”

Janelle Jessen/Siloam Sun­day

Ac­tor B.J. John­son led Main Street Academy teach­ers Guy White, Lanna Hardy and vice prin­ci­pal Joshua Kil­lian in a fun ac­tiv­ity during the Main Street Academy fundraiser on Thurs­day evening.

Janelle Jessen/Siloam Sun­day

Main Street Academy teach­ers walked the red car­pet and were awarded with Os­car Awards during the sixth an­nual Friends of Main Street Academy fundraiser on Thurs­day.

Janelle Jessen/Siloam Sun­day

Em­cee Randy Tor­res pre­sented teacher Julie Lewis with a replica of an Os­car Award during the sixth an­nual Friends of Main Street Academy fundraiser on Thurs­day night.

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