By Crystal Burns
Ten Peabody students failed to solve the mystery of why an eccentric millionaire would invite them all to a secluded island for a weekend, but they succeeded in delivering laughs in the murder mystery spoof “And Then There Was One.”
The satirical play was the highlight of Thursday’s dinner theater fundraiser that netted $3,300 for the Peabody High School 21 Plus Club, which recognizes students who score at least a 21 composite on the ACT or improve their composite by at least three points.
Director of Schools Tim Haney, formerly the principal of Peabody High School, explained the club’s genesis and goals to the sold out house. He said that he attended a seminar led by a Union City principal who noted that his school, like Peabody, had implemented the strategies to help students succeed on the ACT.
“There was something missing because strategy wasn’t enough,” Haney said.
Union City began building a culture they dubbed “ACT Community” with the goal of pulling in business and city leaders to encourage students and their parents and reward students for their hard work.
Haney brought the idea back to Trenton where he, former Director of Schools Sandra Harper, and Peabody Instructional Supervisor Christy Allen began brainstorming. Haney said they knew the school already had the work culture in place.
“We don’t respect a kid’s right to fail,” he said.
They used the 21 composite score as a benchmark because students who score a 21 are eligible for Hope Lottery scholarship money, but they wanted the Peabody club to include all students who were willing to make doing their best on the ACT a priority.
“Then there’s that group that will really give you an effort,” Haney said.
School leaders decided the club should include any student who retakes the test and improves by at least three points. Club members receive $100 each, and all of the money is raised through donations.
“It’s way past due to show the kids some appreciation,” Haney said. “This goes back years. We’ve always wanted to get better at the ACT.”
In 2017, Peabody’s junior class averaged a 20.1 composite, the first time in school history a class has scored higher than 20 on the ACT.
Peabody already has 42 members in the 21 Plus Club. Money raised from Thursday’s dinner theater and silent auction may also be used to fund more ACT boot camps, which teaches students strategies for taking the ACT, Allen said.
“We are very excited about this program,” Allen said. “It means a lot to the kids and their families.”
Sponsorships are available: $300 gold, $200 silver, and $100 bronze, and checks may be dropped off at Peabody High School any time during school hours. Current sponsors are (gold) Dr. Mark and Katie Bruketta and Jackson-Bowen Farms and (bronze) Trenton Rotary Club, Amy Greer-State Farm, Security Bank, Centennial Bank, and Tony and Kathi Burriss.