GLEN DALE - John Marshall High School Assistant Principal Jason Marling believes he has found a way to encourage students to attend classes and develop good character: the "Monarch Card."
The Monarch Card - a small, orange card about the size of a typical business card - seeks to promote three characteristics that school officials said employers find desirable: attendance, punctuality and good character. By instilling these characteristics in students, John Marshall administrators hope to prepare their students to enter the work force after finishing their education.
When he was hired at John Marshall, Marling already had this program in mind. He said it is based on a business model that rewards students for academic achievement and good behavior. To earn a card, a student must have perfect attendance, perfect behavior and no tardies. Using the data from this past spring, 185 students have earned Monarch Cards. Of this number, 62 were freshmen, 72 sophomores and 51 were juniors.
"If you're in school, on time and stay out of trouble, you get a Monarch Card," said Marling. "Students had them in hand the first week of school."
When the cards were distributed, so were nine free tickets to the John Marshall Homecoming Dance.
The cards can be used by students a few different ways. First, the card gets students into any John Marshall athletic event for free. So far, according to Marling, 119 free game admissions have been used since classes resumed. Next, a number of local businesses have agreed to take part in the program by offering special offers to students carrying Monarch Cards.
Any Monarch Card holder with a GPA of at least 3.75 is also eligible for 50 percent reimbursement of SAT/ACT testing costs.
"This is a program to benefit all students," said Marling. "All are eligible. All said and done, the benefit of students striving to do well is worth any financial loss."
To date, the 119 free game admissions have cost the school $357.
Many John Marshall students have already taken advantage of their Monarch Cards.
"It's pretty cool," said Jacob Wood, a John Marshall High School senior. "It gets us into games for free."
"I've already used it to get into athletic events," added Aaron Bishop, a sophomore.
"I used it for the football and volleyball games already," said Hunter Saboski, sophomore.
Jade Och, a junior, said, "I use it to get into games, and I plan to use it to get pizza."
Kassie Riggs, a senior, said, "I use it to get into games and I plan on using it for my ACT."
Marling said John Marshall seems to be heading in the right direction. Between the 2010-11 school year and 2011-12, the school improved its academic rank in the state by 39 spots. Of the 185 students that earned Monarch Cards, 113 had a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
John Marshall High School met Adequate Yearly Progress during the 2011-12 school year, but did not meet AYP in 2010-11, according to West Virginia Department of Education records. The school had a graduation rate of 85.6 percent for the previous school year.