By Curtis Finch Superintendent, Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District The Mecosta County Chamber has worked on a program to promote local businesses with a blue \u201cBand of Locals\u201d wristband. The purpose of the blue band is to encourage people to shop locally. By purchasing items or services from local businesses, the dollars stay in the community and are not shipped off to the box-store chain headquarters in another state or country. Patrons can also receive discounts by supporting local businesses. According to Deb Hildebrand of Consumer Education, recent economic studies have shown \u201cfor every $100 spent at a chain store only $12 is circulated back into the local economy. Whereas that same $100 spent at a local business, is multiplied into a $45 recirculation.\u201d Educational research supports the same concept when it comes to student achievement. When community members support their local school district with time and effort, it makes a big impact on the students\u2019 ability to see their future potential. Students need role models to emulate and learn from in order to make good choices. America has a different approach to education than most of the world; perhaps the Statue of Liberty best sums America by her plaque which states, \u201c\u2026 give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses who are yearning to breathe free...\u201d Americans encourage ALL to come to the educational table to further their chances at the American dream. Most of the other educational systems of the world aresorting systems where students are put into academic, vocational, or labor tracks where their future immediately determined. In America, one can switch tracks at any time. When is the last time you talked to a student who had \u201cswitched tracks\u201d in their life? What was the biggest impact that made them \u201cswitch?\u201d In most cases, it was a conversation with a mentor, a parent, and\/or a person whose opinion they respect; the light finally came \u201con.\u201d For me it was my high school math teacher who challenged me to become a math teacher; so I took on the challenge! Adults can only give advice to students if they have earned the student\u2019s respect; respect takes time and effort. Volunteering to work with students on the athletic field, in the classroom, or out in the community will give you that opportunity to make a difference in some student\u2019s life. Isn\u2019t it ironic that when people are interviewed for their \u201clife\u2019s work,\u201d they often refer back to their early years when a teacher, parent, or coach changed their life perspective and gave them hope for a different future? We cannot make a lasting impression on tomorrow if the adults are not investing in today\u2019s students. \u201cBuying local\u201d can help sustain the local economy for today, but investing in local students can make a long-lasting impact beyond our neighborhood. When is the last time you invested extra time in mentoring or encouraging a student outside your family? Who knows? Maybe you will be helping to shape the next leader in your neighborhood, county, state, or nation. Motivational author Zig Zigler penned it correctly when he said, \u201cA lot of people have gone further than they thought they would because someone else thought they could.\u201d Dr. Finch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CFinchMOISD.