Inspired by "The Gabby Douglas Story," Lifetime invited middle schools in the top 100 districts to join the “Raise the Bar” pledge, a promise by their student body to follow the example of Gabby Douglas and her efforts to go for the gold. We asked teachers/principals to submit a short essay on behalf of their school for a chance to win $10,000 so that Lifetime could help them achieve their goals. In addition, students completed their own personal statements of how they want to raise the bar in their own lives that were displayed on paper gold medals and hung up on their lockers and in classrooms. We’ve had over 100 schools and 73,000 students participate.

Congratulations to the James Rutter Middle School in Sacramento, CA! Here is their winning submission:

James Rutter Middle School
Sacramento, CA

Our school is located in South Sacramento in one of the worst neighborhoods in the county. Just about a year ago we had 4 people killed on the street next to our school, one of them a 4 year old little boy. Our school is very divers with 90% of our families living in poverty, and 40% of our students are English Language Learners. Our students are faced with dealing with difficult choices each day which makes coming to school and doing well in school very challenging. Despite those challenges our students do come to school and do try hard to do their best in school. We have about a 95% attendance rate and about a year ago our students showed they care about school by being one of the top three schools in our District that had the highest gains on the State Testing. I rewarded our students by spending 24 hours on the school roof to show them I too was willing to sacrifice as they did. The funds would help our school by giving our kids an opportunity to visit schools and vocational programs so they can see the various opportunities available to them beyond the neighborhood they live in. Due to the high poverty of our families, our students do not have access to participate in field trips of any kind that are both educational and fun to give them an idea of what is beyond the poverty, crime, and drug filled streets they travel to and from school each day. We could also use the funds to bring in guest speakers and programs for assemblies designed to motivate our kids to work hard and strive for a better future for themselves. Unlike other schools that may have a more affluent population and can raise funds for these types of programs and activities through their Student Body Fundraisers and their on-site Students Stores our school does not raise enough funds to do these things due to the high poverty of our community. Finally, we could use the funds to add some things to our campus to make it a just a little nicer looking and a place student feel good about being at by adding things like park benches and colorful plants and flowers.

Student Pledges

1. I will raise the bar and pledge to get involved with animals by trying to find homes for every stray and work to prevent animal testing and inhumane acts towards animals.

2. I will raise the bar and pledge to become a Pastry Chef so I can put a smile on people’s faces when they eat my sweets.

3. I will raise the bar and pledge to go to Africa and help those in need.