Pulaski, Southwestern, and Somerset High School Work Ethic Seal Recipients celebrated with its annual Work Ethic Seal Luncheon at the Center for Rural Development. Several special guest were in attendance including, local HR Directors from area manufacturing companies, state, city, and local government officials, members of the Cumberlands Workforce Development Area, members of the Pulaski County Educational Consortium, Somerset-Pulaski Chamber of Commerce, Schools Superintendents, Administrative Staff, Board Members, and members of the Somerset-Pulaski Development Foundation. The meal was catered by Mr. Bill Hamilton and Staff of Main Street Deli, and official photographer was Ms. Angela Vaught of "Photography by Angela Vaught" and her staff.

Mr. Martin Shearer, Executive Director for the Somerset-Pulaski Development Foundation, gave opening remarks on the importance of the Work Ethic Seal Program in Pulaski County and congratulated the junior and senior recipients. Roxanna Bishop, PR /Community Ed Director for Pulaski Schools, praised the Development Foundation for their continued support in the Work Ethic Seal Program. The foundation has made it possible for the students, along with their guests, to celebrate this achievement by sponsoring the Work Ethic Seal Luncheon Ceremony at the Center for Rural Development. Lt. Governor, Jenean Hampton, was the keynote speaker for this year's event. Ms. Hampton delivered a very positive motivating message to our junior and seniors from PCHS, SWHS, and SHS on the importance of having a good Work Ethic, and a great attitude.

Part of the mission of education is to prepare students for the transition from school to work and life beyond the classroom. A strong work ethic is essential to our students if they are to secure and maintain successful, meaningful employment.

In an effort to meet this need, the Pulaski County Educational Consortium in joint effort with the Pulaski County School System, the Somerset Independent School System and the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation implemented a special program in which students who meet specific criteria related to work ethic and soft skills will receive a special seal on their high school diploma and transcript.

This year marks 16 years of the Work Ethic Seal Program in the Pulaski County School System. That is over decade of students who have been trained, encouraged and recognized for meeting the required criteria. Students must meet the following criteria to qualify for the work ethic seal: 98% attendance, no more than 1 disciplinary referral, minimum of 2.5 grade point average, no more than 4 tardies, resume writing, and involvement in at least two of the following during the school year -- organized team sport, extracurricular activity (band, chorus, club), Part time employment (10 hours/week for 4 consecutive months during the school year or 20 hours/week during the summer months), and/or verifiable community service project. To date, 1,399 seniors and 1,272 juniors have qualified for the seal making our work force that much stronger.

The Pulaski County School System believes students receiving this recognition will have an advantage when seeking employment in our area. Through involvement and support by business and industry, this seal's "worth" will be validated by employers who view the seal as an important credential in identifying potential employees with a demonstrated work ethic.

Seniors qualifying for the work ethic seal receive the seal on their transcript and diploma, a senior cord to wear at graduation and a letter of recommendation signed by the superintendent of their local school system, the President of the Pulaski County Educational Consortium and the Director of the Pulaski County Development Foundation.

The program was extended to juniors in 2004/2005 as kind of a "practice year". Juniors receive the same letter of recommendation as seniors but must requalify as a senior to actually receive the seal. Juniors receive backpacks for their accomplishment. Both groups are publicly recognized at a luncheon/banquet held at our Center for Rural Development. Students may invite up to 2 guests for the banquet. This year, there were around 650 people in attendance with a total of 207 students (juniors and seniors) earning the seal. Seniors are awarded their cords and juniors a string back pack at the banquet.

Together, the business community and the education community value this program as a continually growing effort to improve student proficiency and graduation rates. Strengthening ties between business, community and education strengthens probability of student success. This program captures the community education components focusing on expanded utilization of school facilities, citizen involvement through volunteering, K-12 support, and collaboration.

On behalf of the Pulaski and Somerset Boards of Education, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Martin Shearer and the Somerset - Pulaski Development Foundation for continued sponsorship of this great event.