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Getting good grades can be a profitable thing. That was was the message of two high-energy assemblies staged Friday at Blaker Kinser Junior High School.

Zany games were played, free T-shirts were sling-shot into the bleacher full of kids and promises made that prizes and incentives would be coming their way in the 2009-10 school year if they earn good grades.

"It's all about academic achievement," said Assistant Principal Eve Quesada of the BK Renaissance program. "We want to show our students that achieving academically can be equally as exciting as a sports event."

All students at BK have an opportunity to earn their way into the program if they do well on their quarterly report cards. Those who achieve a 3.5 to 4.0 grade point average (GPA) will earn a Gold level card. A GPA of 3.0 to 3.49 earns a silver and 2.5 to 2.99 GPA a bronze spot. Those students who fall below a 2.5 GPA can get into the program merely by raising their GPA up .5 points from any level and qualifying as a "purple" Renaissance member.

Incentives to be given out at quarterly assemblies will include after school dances, karaoke contests, discounts for the store store and at games, a "late homework" pass, a "front of the line" lunch pass and a card to excuse the running of a mile on any given day in PE classes. Another incentive will be the right to drop any quiz.

Quesada said she wants to get T-shirts for the kids but only has $150 in her budget. She made a recent appeal to the business community but noted that few donations came in.

Two former BK graduates, Haley Tessaro and Stephanie Muci, dropped by to stress the importance of good school work. Both seniors now, Tessaro is ASB president at Central Valley High School while Muci is ASB vice president.

"Grades start now," Haley told the seventh- and eighth-graders. She said good grades are key to joining popular clubs at CVHS.

"Do you want to play in sports? Do you want to be in leadership? Then you have to get good grades," said Tessaro.

"Once you get into high school grades are everything," said Muci. Any involvement in sports teams and extracurricular events depends on maintaining good grades. She also noted the obvious importance of good grades to win admission to college scholarships and admission. Stephanie said D's and F's on report cards mean mandatory summer school or night classes in order to graduate, which impinges on social time.

BK had a Renaissance program years ago but it fell by the wayside. Quesada said she is reintroducing it to the school in the hopes that academic achievement will "become part of the culture."

Helping to create some excitement was an appearance by two Modesto Nuts mascots, Wally the Walnut and Alvy the Almond, accompanied by Christa Parr and Otoma Agnew.

The Renaissance program was created by Josten's yearbook company in 1988.