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Leianne Jacob, 11, a 5th grade pupil at Sasebo Elementary School, received a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond on Friday as a first place winner in the A-OK Program sponsored by the Navy Exchange Services Command. She was selected from thousands of entrants worldwide based on her academic effort in maintaining excellent grades during the 4th quarter of the 2002-2003 school year.
Leianne Jacob, 11, a 5th grade pupil at Sasebo Elementary School, received a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond on Friday as a first place winner in the A-OK Program sponsored by the Navy Exchange Services Command. She was selected from thousands of entrants worldwide based on her academic effort in maintaining excellent grades during the 4th quarter of the 2002-2003 school year. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Hard work paid off for a fifth-grader at Sasebo Elementary School.

Eleven-year-old Leianne Jacob was presented a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond on Friday for winning the Navy Exchange Service Command’s A-OK Program contest.

Jacob was among thousands of students who entered the contest last year. She won the top prize based on her grades for the fourth quarter of the 2002-03 school year.

The A-OK Program recognizes pupils in military communities for earning good grades, according to Sandra Franklin, general manager of Sasebo’s NEX operations. To be eligible, pupils must maintain at least a “B” average and submit their verified grades to the local NEX.

“I am very proud of her. She’s an achiever, and works hard to make the grades, even though at times I’ve had to encourage her,” said Luz Agnes Jacob, Leianne’s mother, who attended the presentation, watching as Capt. Michael James, base commander, handed her daughter the $5,000 savings bond.

“Now and then, she lets her grades vary … going up and down. Overall, she works very hard and studies a lot, because she’s not one of those people who makes good grades without much effort,” said Luz Agnes, who’s married to the USS Juneau’s Petty Officer 2nd Class Edmundo Jacob. They also have a 14-year-old daughter, Averee, in the ninth grade.

“This is the second time a Sasebo student has won the top prize just since I’ve been here,” Franklin said. “When I first arrived, Rendell Jacob [no relation to Leianne] was the second-quarter winner of the $5,000 bond … during the 2001-2002 school year.”

A third-grader at Sasebo, Rendell Jacob, 9, transferred with his family to Coronado Naval Base, Calif.

This year, NEXCOM added an additional $1,000 savings bond winner each quarter. Now, each contest includes a $5,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 savings bond winner for a total of $11,000 each quarter, and $44,000 annually. Various NEX business partners fund the A-OK Program awards.

At the present level, 16 pupils each year win an A-OK Program student award, certificate, lapel pin and a ribbon with medallion for academic excellence, Franklin said. “It’s good for the other kids to see the savings bond presented here in the classroom,” Franklin said. “It shows the rest of them that there are some real possibilities if they work hard and do well in school.”

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