Reaching for Excellence: Towering Achievement

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RIVERSIDE, Mo. -- Next year around this time we quite likely will see a new and imposing landmark on a high Missouri River bluff in the Northland. A tall bell tower is planned for Park Hill South High School. And when the tower is built, this week's Fox 4 Young Achievers can look with pride and satisfaction at all the hard work they did to make it a reality.

Sales of hot chocolate and coffee run hot and cold as school days start at Park Hill South High School. But juniors Scott Cline and Dalton Lightner keep putting in the time, filling the cups and collecting the cash, because part of the money goes to a big project they've dedicated themselves to since they were freshmen. Scott and Dalton are the driving force behind a student council campaign to get a tower built in front of Park Hill South for the school's victory bell.

"We've got one of the largest and oldest bells on a public high school campus," says Scott. It's here to celebrate our academic and athletic accomplishments. We're just trying to get it big and get it for the whole community to see." The bell was donated by an area business owner and a design already has been worked up for the tower to put it atop and an impressive plaza surrounding it. Estimated cost, $90,000. It's a daunting goal but the boys and a few helpers already have raised more than half of it with a lot of small projects and a big benefit golf tournament. And they have another golf tournament in the works for next spring.

"They both kind of hit this project with a passion," says Park Hill South High School Student Council Advisor Sarah Mathews. Mathews says Scott and Dalton make a great leadership team.

"I'd say Scott brings brings really organized, sort of meticulous checklist style to it and Dalton is super excited and kind of leading the enthusiasm. He drives the momentum. And so they complement each other really well." At the very heart of the victory bell tower project is tradition -- establishing tradition at Park Hill South High School, still a relatively new school in the metro area. And getting that started for South is very important to Dalton and Scott.

"I'm very confident," says Dalton. "I know me and Scott can do it. We've already raised half of the money. There's nothing stopping us. We'll get it done."

"Everyone wants to find a way to make a difference and make an impact," says Mathews. "And I think (Scott and Dalton) see them being able to put this up for all the students who have been and all the students who will be as their mark, their mark on the school, their way to leave this place better than they found it."

"I think it's really going to impact kids," says Dalton, "and that's going to make them strive to achieve a goal so they can be recognized at school and get to ring the bell."

"It's not just something that's just going to be there for five years," says Scott. "It's going to be there forever." And the bell likely will ring out very loud and clear for Scott and Dalton when they get it into the heights.

Dalton and Scott just launched a new fundraising initiative, a restaurant benefit at the Lone Star Steakhouse at NW Barry Road and I-29. From Sunday, November 11 through November 30, the restaurant will donate 15% of meal receipts to the bell tower project if you bring in a special flier. Click here to print the Lone Star Dine and Donate flier.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism.

Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on FOX4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 5 p.m.

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