Alabama Student Featured in National Ad Campaign Celebrating Science and Math Achievements

Minor High School in Adamsville has been known as The Home of the Tigers since it first opened in 1922. But last month, after hosting an exciting event to celebrate the school’s outstanding success in improving students’ Advanced Placement performance in math and science, that might have changed. Many Alabamians in Jefferson County, and increasingly around the state, now recognize Minor High School as the Home of the Tigers … and Jelani Grace.

That’s because Minor High School Advanced Placement student Jelani Grace was selected from among thousands of students nationwide to be featured in a national advertising program sponsored by ExxonMobil and highlighting student and teacher accomplishments in science and math. In addition to the honor of having one of its own chosen for the high-profile national campaign, Minor High School received a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil in honor of Jelani’s participation.

The ExxonMobil advertising program highlights the role of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in supporting the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive (APTIP) program in six states across the nation. APTIPis aimed at boosting student enrollment and achievement in rigorous AP courses. The program was implemented at Minor High School in 2008 through a grant from A+ College Ready, which administers the AP program at 43 high schools throughout Alabama. The ExxonMobil donation will be used as additional funding for needs of the APTIP at Minor High School.

Speaking to the excited overflow crowd that joined the school’s marching band and cheerleaders for a full-blown pep rally to cheer student success in the classroom, A+ Education Partnership Board Chairman Bill Smith said, “We couldn’t be more proud of Jelani Grace and all of the students and teachers here at Minor High School for challenging themselves to take rigorous AP coursework and pass AP exams in critical subjects like math and science.

“Through the support of ExxonMobil, NMSI and A+ College Ready, these students are now equipped with the tools and opportunities to succeed, becoming the next generation of leaders in critical fields like science and engineering.”

Smith’s pride and encouragement was echoed by other education and corporate leaders on hand for the big day, including Truman Bell, senior program officer for education for ExxonMobil.

“In order to address the many challenges we face related to healthcare, energy and the economy, we must ensure that students excel in math and science,” Bell said. “By sharing his own personal experiences in the ad campaign, Jelani Grace served as a tremendous ambassador for this program and role model for others who might be considering further coursework and careers in science, technology, engineering or math.”

While neither of his parents was able to attend college, Jelani makes it clear in the ad that going to college is his “number one goal.” As a participant in the A+ College Ready program, Jelani has taken, or is now taking, AP Biology, AP U.S. History, AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Psychology, AP Calculus, and AP Physics.

If you have not seen the ad, which began running during ESPN’s coverage of the 2011 Masters Golf Tournament from April 7-10, the 30-second spot featuring Jelani can be seen here.

Nationally, NMSI reported a 98 percent increase in the number of students passing Advanced Placement (AP) math, science and English exams in participating schools across the country over the first two years.

In second-year results released by A+ College Ready last fall, Minor High School recorded a two-year 2,000 percent increase in the number of students passing AP exams in math, science and English, going from one qualifying score in 2007 to 21 qualifying scores in 2010. The two qualifying scores Jelani received in his junior year are included in that total. After just one year in the program, Alabama APTIP program schools had a 106 percent increase in students passing AP exams in math, science and English.

By expanding the number of high school students taking and passing college-level AP courses, APTIP is significantly increasing the students’ chances of succeeding in college. Students who pass an AP course are three times more likely to graduate from college. There will be 64 high schools participating in the APTIP program next year in Alabama.