LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - After three years of hard work Eisenhower High School in Lawton has been designated as a "State School of Character" for 2017. The school is just one of six receiving this honor across the state. Today the school celebrated the achievement with a pep rally.
Each year, state officials with Character.org select schools and districts across the nation that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development. And the organization looks for whether the school has a true positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior, and school goals.
For the last few years, teachers and students at Eisenhower have been working on the application process which included virtual interviews with Character.org or visits from organization officials to test and rate them.
When the school found out last week they were ecstatic. The assistant school principal said she lost for words when she heard the news. She also said she is extremely proud all the student's hard work.
Junior Kyndall Erricson is a cheerleader at Eisenhower High School. She said everyday she and other students learn how to be their best selves and how to do their best work while making school a place where students and educators feel comfortable.
"Cheer is a really fun organization to do we are really big into school spirit and the rest of the student body really reacts to that and it creates a good atmosphere for the school," said Erricson.
To earn the state school of character title, one of the requirements was for students to describe the challenges they've faced over the years and how they overcame them. They also had to say what their school values are and what *character* means to them.
"We have these things called soft skills and hard skills that we learned in school and soft skills tend to be neglected sometimes and the soft skills are the things you need to interact with people make meaningful connections and just get ahead of life for your career," said Fortenbaugh.
Assistant principal Laura Puccino agrees, teaching them about character development is especially important for the students futures.
"Character is who we are as individuals is the most important thing you can learn. Bottom line is yes we are going to teach you reading and math and science and subjects but you have to be a person of character, a person of integrity to go far and to be truly successful in life," said Puccino.
Puccino has worked hard along with the students through the application process to make sure Eisenhowers handwork was recognized.
Junior Bailey Fortenbaugh is one of those students who has been helping to work toward this title since her freshmen year.
"We have done a lot of things through clubs, through administration and every student in this school to become the school we are today," said Fortenbaugh.
Students say being designated as state schools character is an honor but students say they want to take it to the national level and become a national school of character.
"Our student body is full of wonderful students so its not a matter of working towards it..its just continuing to what we are doing because we have wonderful people at this school so i don't think it will be a challenge just continuing to be nice and practice our core values," said Erricson.
In order for Eisenhower High School to be designated as a national school of character, they will again have to go through the process of virtual interviews or a visit from an official with character.org. They will be graded on a point scale system and they must earn at least 3 out of 4 points. The schools selected will be announced in May and receive the new title and a banner for the front of their school.