By Randy Johnston Special to the Herald Review MARION - Marion Elementary School launched the school year by celebrating its innovative Raising Our Academic Results program, referred to as ROAR by teachers and students. School officials recently learned that the ROAR program for the 2012-13 academic year received the Michigan's Best Education Excellence Award from the Michigan Association of School Boards. Marion's winning program, designed to improve student achievement, was entered in the extracurricular activities category. Districts across the state submitted entries. Initial review narrowed the field to three contenders, with Marion's ROAR program taking top honors in the final round of judging. ROAR, which continues during the current academic year, provides additional one-hour learning sessions every day before and after school. Participation is voluntary and open to all students from kindergarten through fifth grade. School can begin as early as 7 a.m. and continue after the school day ends for motivated students. They spend the extra classroom time mastering and enhancing skills in math, science and language arts. Classroom teachers provide one-on-one tutoring focusing on the individual needs of each student. Some need remedial instruction or help with homework, and others seek the challenge of advanced work. The success of ROAR is the result of several years of planning. Using input from administrators, colleagues and students, a core group of teachers including Heather Deighton, Betsy Fisher, Steve Henderson, Tammy Ladd, Nicole McCrimmon and Sue Robinson designed and implemented the award-winning program. On Oct. 26, Marion Public Schools Superintendent Mort Meier, school board member Alicia Michell and several teachers from the elementary school will attend the award ceremony in Lansing co-hosted by the Michigan Association of School Boards and SET SEG school insurance specialists. SET SEG is the exclusive sponsor of the awards and contributes funds to support the competition. In recognition of outstanding achievement as winner of the Michigan's Best award, Marion Elementary School will receive a trophy, an award sign to post at the school and a prize of $2,500. Meier said he is pleased with the program and what it has done for the students of the elementary school. "We will continue the ROAR program that has served so many students so well and helped them with their academic goals," he said. "Let's continue a great thing and keep it going." Ladd, who teaches first and second grade, is one of the dedicated ROAR staff. She has two morning and four afternoon sessions. "I really like the mixture of kindergarten through fifth grades all together," she said. "It's exciting to see fifth graders helping the kindergarten kids. They work with iPads and computers and we can tailor the work to meet the needs of each student." Five-year-old Jaymison Beebe is in kindergarten and participates in ROAR. "I like to do the counting game on the computer," he said. "I win prizes and I like working with my friends and helping them." According to Meier, he and the staff are motivated to achieve quality education by doing what is best for the students. "While we're not in it for the awards, we'll continue to work hard and if some efforts turn out to be award-winning, that's great recognition for the school," he added. For more information about ROAR and the Marion schools, contact Meier at (231) 743-2486.