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Community recognized a third time with 100 Best honor


By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
For the third time in three tries Mt. Sterling-Montgomery County has been named one of the nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People for 2008.
The award was handed out by America’s Promise—The Alliance for Youth, a creation of former U.S. Gen. and Secretary of State Colin Powell to recognize excellence in development and opportunities for youths.
By netting the honor a third time the community will be included in an America’s Promise Hall of Fame.
This community was recognized with awards in 2005 and 2007, the last years they were offered. The community was one of 44 that were three-time winners and included in the Hall of Fame this year.
The selection panel evaluated entries that required detailed information about each communities’ efforts to fulfill the five promises youths need to succeed—caring adults who are actively involved in their lives, safe places in which to learn and grow, a healthy start toward adulthood, an effective education that builds marketable skills and opportunities to help others.
There were nearly 750 participants from more than 300 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico entered in this year’s competition, America’s Promise said in a Jan. 24 press release announcing the winners.
Mt. Sterling was chosen, according to America’s Promise, in part, “because of their work to ensure students have the best problem-solving skills to manage their future.”
It also made note of the school system’s Reality Store, “which provides mock life experiences for eighth-graders, where they are issued jobs, salaries and checkbooks, and must face costs and problems associated with daily living.”
Representatives from America’s Promise visited the Reality Store last year, a local school official said.
Community leaders throughout Mt. Sterling and Montgomery County gathered information for the application that was sent in in the fall and judged by a distinguished group of panelists from across the country.
“The 100 Best competition is more important than ever because it’s become harder for cities and towns to focus on the needs of their children with all the challenges facing them, and we see the impact of this in our dismal high school graduation rates,” said Marguerite Kondracke, president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance.
“These communities rose above and through their actions remind us that there are cities and towns that are going the extra mile everyday to make sure young people reach their potential,” she added. “On behalf of the Alliance I congratulate these communities and call on others to follow their lead.”
Participants in the program are eligible to apply for $300,000 in grants from the Alliance.
In addition, the Alliance has teamed up with KABOOM! to give a new community-built playground—valued at $70,00—to one of the 2008 winners. The recipient will be announced later this year.
To qualify communities also must be named a 2008 Playful City USA.

Local leaders said the award reflects what they already knew about the community—that it’s a great place to raise youths.
“I was pleased, but not surprised, to learn that our community has once again been designated as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People,” Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Daniel Freeman said. “For a community our size we do a good job of providing young people with access to the America’s Promise Alliance five promises. ... We are fortunate to be able to offer a wide variety of curricular and extracurricular programs in the Montgomery County School System—a feat that very few school districts across the state can top.
“However, community and parental support is still crucial in addressing realistic issues related to our young people, such as dropping out of high school, job/college readiness, alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy and so on,” he added. “We know we are among the best, but let’s keep getting better.”