Springfield, ILÂ â€“ . Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon declared today (August 14, 2011) â€œTop Scholar Dayâ€ during a reception for the stateâ€™s top performing high school graduates at the Illinois State Fair.
The 72 students, representing 59 schools from Poplar Grove to Harrisburg, were honored because of their high academic achievements and dedication to extracurricular activities.
â€œThe students honored here today have demonstrated their dedication to educational excellence and are some of the best and brightest future leaders of Illinois,â€ Lt. Governor Simon said. â€œI look forward to seeing what each and every student will accomplish in their future endeavors.â€
Lt. Governor Simon, the stateâ€™s point person on education reform, urged the students to persist through the next level of higher education and encourage classmates to do the same.
â€œCurrently, only 40 percent of the Illinois workforce has a college degree or credential,â€ Simon said in her remarks to the students. â€œBy 2025, we want at least 60 percent of our workforce to have a college credential. This goal will be challenging, but with dedicated students like you leading the way, we are confident that our state will be the best educated in the nation.â€
Chancellor Susan Koch from the University of Illinois at Springfield joined in congratulating the recent graduates. In her remarks, Chancellor Koch mentioned the late Senator Paul Simon, who was a professor at UIS (then called Sangamon State University) in the early 1970s and founded the Public Affairs Reporting program there. Koch said Senator Simon had a favorite saying, “We can do better,” and she encouraged the Top Scholars to use their talents and knowledge to make the world a better place, as Simon strived to do. Koch also praised Lt. Governor Simon for her advocacy of education in Illinois.
Illinois Top Scholar recognition began under then-Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and has been celebrated for the past six years at the State Fair.