ROCK -– Mercer Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn will act as an auctioneer at a spring reward auction in a sixth-grade class at Montcalm Elementary School in Rock on May 4.
Throughout the month of April, the 60 students of teachers Millie Hedrick and Susan French earn "Hedrick/French bucks" for good behavior, classroom work and answering random questions correctly, among other things.
Early in the month, the denominations are 20, 50 or 100. Toward the end of month the monetary amounts slowly progress to one thousand or one million bucks. The two teachers work all year as a team, teaching together in one room. They have been gathering items for the students to bid on, including university-logo clothing, sports equipment, jewelry, snacks, jewelry, radios and CD players.
Aboulhosn will auction to the items to the highest bidder with the most "Hedrick/French bucks."
"They do an outstanding job with these kids," Aboulhosn said. "We have a great time with it."
Aboulhosn has been an active volunteer at the school for more than 10 years. His former law firm, Sanders, Austin, Flanigan & Aboulhosn, was a partner in education with Montcalm.
"I started making a point of going out there weekly to read to different classes," he said. "Eventually, we settled with Ms. Hedrick and Ms. French and their sixth-grade class. I continued my relationship with them after I became a judge, because I truly enjoy going to the school and mentoring the class.
"I hope to encourage many of them to continue in their education and to not think that graduating high school is the end of their education.
"I explain to them that the longer they go to school, the more money they will make, and the less likely they will end up in trouble and go to jail. I explain that a person with a high school diploma will generally make more money than someone who does not finish high school. Someone who finishes college will more likely make more money than someone with a high school degree. Finally, someone with a graduate degree will make more in most cases than someone with an undergraduate degree alone.
"I also explain that there are generally more people in jail that have not completed high school than there are with people with high school diplomas. There are a smaller number of people in jail with a college degree and even a smaller number with a graduate degree."