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The Silver Mesa Elementary School community turned out en masse Tuesday night to kick off its America 2000 project.

The Jordan District school, 8920 S. 1700 East, is the first in Utah to join President Bush's ambitious school commitment. Last fall, the Sevier District as a whole was the first in Utah to become involved in America 2000.The president urged creation of America 2000 projects as a vehicle for his six national goals, which include: getting children to school ready to learn, increasing graduation rates to 90 percent, making children competent in basic academic subjects, making America first in the world in math and science, creating a totally literate population and freeing schools of drugs and violence. The goal is to reach these milestones by the year 2000.

Gov. Norm Bangerter told the Silver Mesa community Tuesday that the involvement of everyone is the key to the success of the school's America 2000 ambitions. "The school belongs to you," he told parents and students, as well as teachers, administrators and business partners.

U.S. Education Secretary Lamar Alexander sent a letter, which was read by Tom Tancredo, regional director of the Denver office of the department. The secretary urged the school to "keep aiming high."

Few schools in the country have yet accepted the challenge, Tancredo said, in congratulating Silver Mesa.

Also on hand was Alvin Granowsky, vice president of World Book Educational Products, Chicago. The publisher has developed a special partnership with Silver Mesa and will participate in a major community project to be announced later this year.

"It was a neat evening," Principal Bruce Barnson reported Wednesday morning. "The kids were fabulous." Each grade had created a cheer for the occasion and presented them between talks by dignitaries.

Barnson said the school is determined to make the project a real benefit for children. The school's staff has been reorganized and is seeking grants to help them achieve the national goals.

"It's going to be more than just glitz," said Barnson. Parents and two Jordan District School Board members signed pledge cards to support the restructuring effort.

Bush proposed national financial support for the American 2000 project, with hefty grants to selected schools and communities, but the money has not yet been appropriated by Congress.