OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A campaign to boost student participation in the advanced placement program is paying off for the Ocean Springs School District. More than 59 percent of AP students at Ocean Springs High School scored three or higher on their AP exams last year. That's much higher than the state average of 37.3 percent, and it comes pretty close to the international average. On Tuesday, those students were recognized and rewarded with money.
The celebration opened with lively music and words of praise from the superintendent.
"Today is really about the fact that you've put in a lot of hard work, so we're excited about AP scholars," said Superintendent Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter.
In the audience sat 166 Ocean Springs High students who have tackled challenging advanced placement courses and earned a qualifying score of three, four or five on their math, science and English AP exams.
"I know that I will get many college credits from this, and hopefully, I'll be prepared in my college," said senior Olivia Eustice.
"It's tough at first, because you're just starting out in AP courses. Once you get used to it, it's a lot of fun," said senior Kaylin Brennan.
As a reward for their achievement, each student received a $100 check for every exam that makes the grade.
"It was pretty wonderful," said Kaylin. "I mean, it felt nice for them to call my name and know that I did what I could do. I tried my best, and it paid off and I got the money, so that's great."
"Oh, it's amazing getting the check. I can't wait to spend it," said Olivia.
The checks totaled $18,700. The financial incentive is part of a three-year grant from the National Math and Science Initiative"
"Although that sounds like a lot of money, just think about that also translates to college credit, which means you're not having to pay that tuition as well, those books," said NMSI Program Manager Toni Schneider.
The partnership also provides invaluable teacher training, student study sessions, supplies and materials to support the program.
The AP program is considered a good predictor of college success and graduation. The students are reaping the benefits and proving they can compete against their peers from all over the world.
"You are defying what people think is possible of teenagers in Mississippi. You are defying what people expect out of Mississippi, and for that reason, you are simply OS greatness," said Coleman-Potter.
Teachers are also rewarded if their students succeed. For every student that achieves a qualifying score on the AP exam, their teacher will receive a $100 check. Those checks will be distributed next month.