A report card for the new Champions Program at John Glenn High School in Westland would contain only the highest marks possible.
Last month, the program marked the second celebration of students who successfully increased their grade point averages by at least .5 with a banquet attended by more than 600 at the Hellenic Banquet Center. As teachers, mentors, parents, school and city officials and benefactors celebrated the accomplishments of students, several remained in awe of the success of the program.
This semester, 567 students joined the program, which awards students who succeed with improving their grades by half a point $200. Of those who signed up, 533 improved their grades, none had their grades diminish and 159 made their goal and marched across the stage to receive their checks from Glenn Shaw Jr. who with his wife, Patty, founded the program.
“I simply could not believe the numbers when they were calculated. To have 94 percent of these students bring their grades up in the program was more than we ever expected,” Shaw said.
During the evening presentation, a few students related their success stories and explained how involvement in the program motivated and helped them. One young woman increased her grade point average from .08 to 2.8, with a story that Shaw said simply brought tears to the eyes of all who heard her speak.
Another student who had been “doing things I shouldn’t” and failing his classes also saw the same level of remarkable grade improvement and credited the program for helping him and keeping him in school.
“We stay involved with these kids. We don’t just have them sign up and then move on. We check on them. We communicate with them. They know that we really care about their success,” Shaw said. “This couldn’t have happened without the help from these great mentors and the involvement of the parents. I believe that is the key to our success.”
Shaw, his wife, and his family fund the program personally, with some contributions from other donors.
“There is no public or tax money used for this,” Shaw said. “And obviously, we would welcome contributions to the funding as more and more students are eager to sign up for the program.”
The evening celebration also saw the awarding of scholarships to several area students. Wayne County Community College District awarded a total of $26,800 in full-year scholarships while Schoolcraft Community College awarded two scholarships to students in the Wayne-Westland district. The Westland Community Foundation awarded 10 $1,000 scholarships to local students and four $500 scholarships.
“We are lucky to have people involved in this effort through the Westland Community Foundation. Sharon Scott, Sandy Godbout and Steve Kay had a difficult job reviewing all the applicants and selecting those who would receive scholarships,” Shaw said. “We are also grateful to Wayne County Community College District and Schoolcraft College for the help they are offering our local students.”