Something interesting is going on in 8th grade classrooms in a number of Utah school districts. Volunteer representatives from the community have been showing up to encourage each student to become a Utah Scholar.
Utah is one of 22 states taking part in this new national initiative that is designed to better prepare young students for college and beyond.
Don't just go through the motions of secondary education, they're being told, but sign up for classes that are challenging. A rigorous high school curriculum, after all, goes a long way toward defining success in college and life.
8th graders are being targeted this month because they'll soon be registering for 9th grade, which is essentially the beginning of their high school years.
A student who commits to becoming a Utah Scholar and completes a curriculum that extends beyond the state's current requirements for graduation will receive special recognition, with the possibility of more generous grants and scholarships becoming available.
KSL encourages 8th grade students and their parents to take the program seriously. By laying a more solid academic foundation in grades 9 through 12 - by becoming a Utah Scholar - the windows of opportunity beyond high school are sure to open much wider.