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What is Sigma Alpha Sigma?

Sigma Alpha Sigma is a high school extracurricular organization designed to foster leadership skills among students who will promote academic excellence within the student body of a school.  We are many different things depending upon what is needed from us.  As a growing national organization, we hope to charter Sigma chapters in high schools, provide training in leadership, tutoring, and mentoring for members of the local chapter and help those members create the academic support services needed on their high school's campus.  We then help provide those students with the necessary tools to create and sustain a social culture of academic excellence and mutual support amongst the student body.  These types of culture building activities are hard to explain in words—pictures and videos of these activities can be found on our website and our Youtube channel.

Is Sigma Alpha Sigma a “Greek” organization?

Sigma Alpha Sigma is not affiliated with any fraternities or sororities on any college campuses.  It is not “greek” in any way.  Sigma is a unique organization of its own design; the founders of the organization wanted to capture the academic recognition aspect of organizations like National Honor Society and Phi Beta Kappa.  They combined this notion of academic honor with the leadership and advocacy characteristics of professional organizations like the National Education Association.  Students who founded the organization knew that in order for these elements to be successful on a high school campus, the organization would have to appeal to the social nature of teenagers; therefore, the organization tapped into the appearance of “greek” organizations by adopting a crest and greek letters for a name.

Despite our appearance, our membership practices require that members apply by submitting a membership application (modeled after the Common Application for college). All who apply via a complete application are accepted as long as they meet basic membership requirements (a 3.0 GPA, regular school attendance, and few documented discipline infractions) similar to that of other high school student organizations.  All applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and some exceptions are made for students in extenuating circumstances.  Our application process and admissions evaluations are meant to mimic those of a college—just one more way the organization works to prepare students for continuing education.

What does Sigma do?

Sigma's ultimate goal is to change the culture of high schools from one where failure, violence, and misbehavior is acceptable and "cool" to a culture where success is the norm and excellence is the standard for all.  Sigma does this by creating positive peer pressure through training, mentoring, and tutoring.  Often teens and young adults leave their schools to help those in need in their community, while students in need on campus go unaided.  Our members prevent those in need in schools from becoming those in need in the community by helping students motivate each other, pass their classes, ace their standardized tests, and get into colleges and productive careers with highly marketable leadership skills.

Currently, there are 305 members of Sigma Alpha Sigma at Ridge Community High School.  Since the organization began in 2010, members have provided 37,970 hours of mentoring, tutoring, and community service to the Ridge campus (if this work was done by teachers being paid at Polk County’s supplemental rate of pay, this work would cost RCHS more than $700,000.00).  Members of the organization can take part in sixty hours of leadership training with a certification exam to be offered to members starting in the summer of 2015. Imagine what this organization could do at dozens of schools across the state of Florida or hundreds of schools across the nation.

Why is Sigma needed?

As a non-profit organization, Sigma offers a means for public high schools to improve their school’s academic achievement through student leadership.  Few public schools in the state of Florida have been able to overcome the hurdle of improving their school grade since the school grading system was introduced in 1997, especially having the hurdle of a highly diverse student population and being located in a socioeconomically challenged area. Often the demographics in advanced academic courses do not reflect the overall demographics of the student population. A natural consequence then is that the demographics of students succeeding in advanced academics and entering college does not meet the demographics of the school population at large.

Sigma was born in Florida, the center of the controversy over the school-to-prison pipeline, where in 2005 28,000 arrests were made in Florida schools.  If educational institutions routinely send their students away in handcuffs, Sigma believes little learning can take place for those students.

Sigma focuses on changing the school culture to empower students to motivate themselves and their peers, challenge themselves with advanced academic courses, and prepare for the continuing education our constantly changing world demands of its work force. Specifically, the organization works at schools in low socioeconomic areas where students often lack the understanding of how important education is to improving their future.  Sigma communicates the crucial need to prepare early for one’s academic success. Sigma’s main focus is empowering students to provide mentorship and leadership on their high school’s campus.

Other organizations focus on reforming teacher practice to improve students’ success in school; however, Sigma focuses on students and changing school culture.  Ultimately, our clientele are students, although we market ourselves to teachers and school boards.  Sigma is, by definition and by design, a student-led and student-centered reform.

What are the founding principles of Sigma?

Mission: To empower students to achieve academic success while closing the gap between student-led and teacher-driven educational efforts.

Vision: To develop a community of student academic leaders who stand accountable for learning, are proactive in education, and help others attain academic success.

Creed: I believe in the five pillars of Sigma Alpha Sigma: citizenship, compassion, loyalty, responsibility, and trustworthiness.  As an academic leader, I must take responsibility for my actions and their consequences and become a role model for other students.

"I believe students empower themselves to ensure they receive the best education their institution can offer.  All students can be academically successful with support.  My duty is to motivate other students to achieve academic success.  I serve to provide positive peer pressure and guidance to my fellow students.  As a student, I understand students' concerns and problems and I can offer my knowledge and experience to them.  I strive to create an academic environment where success is desirable and socially acceptable.  I build academic leadership and responsibility in myself and others.

I believe a free, public education should be a high quality education and that student leadership is vital to quality education.  Academic leadership, growth, and independence will strengthen society.  Education is the path to close the gaps between races, genders, and socio-economic statuses.  By helping students in need today, I can put them on a path to success and prevent them from travelling a road of poverty and ignorance.  I serve educational professionals' and parents' desire for a quality education for students and their hope to teach students accountability for education.  I serve all mankind by fostering morality and reason because a free society is dependent on the freedom of thought attained through the free education of all citizens in a society."

How is Sigma Alpha Sigma governed?

Sigma Alpha Sigma is governed by its National Board of Directors, who is advised by our National Board of Trustees, and our National Representative Assembly, who will convene annually during the Forum.  The day-to-day operations of the organization are maintained by our National Governance Committee.  At the moment, governance of the national organization is resting on the shoulders of our acting National Governance Committee as the organization is seeking to seat its Board.