When Dean Browning was a junior high student growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, he won tickets to Cincinnati Reds Major League baseball games by making straight A's at his school. It turned him into a lifelong Reds fan.
On Wednesday, Lehigh County Commissioner Chairman Browning and representatives of the Iron Pigs Minor League baseball team and the Coca Cola Bottling Company of the Lehigh Valley announced the creation of a similar program that will reward local 7th and 8th grade students who get good grades with free tickets to Iron Pigs games. It’s called the “Straight A All Stars.”
“When you’re in 7th and 8th grade you don’t think long term,” Browning said later. “Your parents say you need to study hard, it’s going to pay off down the road…but you’re not thinking 20 years ahead. The idea behind this was to give them an immediate reward for their performance.”
Students who earn straight A’s or a 4.0 grade point average in the most recent marking period will get vouchers for two free tickets, plus free parking and two free drinks. The vouchers are good for selected home games during the regular season, said Browning, who is chief financial officer at New World Aviation, one of the program’s sponsors.
To date about 820 vouchers have been awarded to students.
Currently, 26 schools are participating, including 13 public middle schools. Among them are Broughal, East Hills and Northeast in Bethlehem Area, Lower Macungie in East Penn School District, Springhouse Middle School (South Whitehall) in the Parkland School District, and those in Salisbury and Southern Lehigh.
Parochial schools taking part are Notre Dame of Bethlehem, St. Ann School, St. Joseph the Worker in Orefield, St. Thomas More in Salisbury and St. John Vianney Regional School in Allentown.
Other private schools participating include Swain, Moravian Academy, Lehigh Christian Academy, Emmaus Baptist Academy, Covenant Christian Academy and Concordia Lutheran Academy.
Browning said he’d like to see every school district in the county participate next season.