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Commentary from Dr. Mike Looney: Student led initiative hopes to supply laptops to students

Tomorrow school bells will ring again to signal the start of the new school year for Williamson County Schools’ students. 
Tax free weekend has passed, families have checked and rechecked school supply lists as backpacks are filled, and thousands of kids will sport the latest back to school fashions as they enter their classrooms to rekindle friendships, make new acquaintances, and meet their new teachers. The excitement and enthusiasm is palpable in our community.

As we get this year started, it probably is worth a peek in the rearview mirror. Last year, for the 2nd year in a row, WCS produced the highest student achievement results in the State of Tennessee and in our school district’s history. We produced significant academic growth in most areas, meaning that our students made more than one year of academic progress in most grades and subject areas. We pledge to remain vigilant in keeping pace to secure a year’s growth for all of students in the district.

Our teachers, principals, and staff are amongst the country’s brightest and best educators. They remain focused on the task of supporting all students in our quest to become nationally recognized in academics, arts, and athletics. The educational experience we offer our students continues to outpace school districts throughout the state in the classroom, on the playing field, and in the fine arts.

To this end, I want to share with you an amazing story about the kids in our school district. Since my arrival nearly four years ago, I have had the privilege of collaborating with a group of high school students on a regular basis. These student leaders have left an indelible impression on me. Because of them, I am optimistic about our country’s future once in their hands.

This year’s group has developed a compelling vision for our seniors: guarantee college access for every member of the class of 2014. Their plan is to help one another by studying, preparing and practicing for the ACT. In Tennessee, a score of 21 on the ACT qualifies high school graduates for the four year HOPE (Lottery) Scholarship. Talk about different; I am amazed at the level of maturity and leadership shown by the class of 2013-14. Kids helping kids prepare for a brighter tomorrow. Now, that is genius and inspiring.

To assist in this endeavor the district will provide students with ACT prep materials, practice tests, and other digital tools. What we are unable to do is provide each of them with a laptop to get the work done.

From time to time, we get presented with an opportunity to be a difference maker, and I need you to be counted as such today. If you can help me find a way to furnish these high school seniors with a laptop, what an impact we could have on the future of the class of 2014.

We have secured a discount on good quality laptops for $300 each. We need 400 more of them, so I am trying to raise $120,000.

Whether you can give a dollar or a thousand, I am asking for your help. All donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of the money will go to purchase laptops for Williamson County’s high school seniors.

We can all rationalize why not to give, and we can all set aside this prose and carry-on with life. But, just maybe, we can also get good folks to lend a hand and help these young students prepare for ACT success.

As your superintendent, I have contributed to this effort and personally invite you to give a little too. We can do this- because it matters, and we are Williamson.

Please take a moment to mail a check today to: Williamson County Schools/Ladders to HOPE Challenge at 1320 West Main Street, Franklin, TN 37034 or donate electronically at

Dr. Mike Looney
WCS Superintendent


Posted on: 8/8/2013


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