LAKELAND -- The Lanier County Elementary School held an academic pep rally and parade Friday as part of the Jostens Renaissance program.

Superintendent Eloise Sorrell said the program is to recognize levels of achievement for students and staff.

Recognition, respect, reward and results are the four main elements of the program, Sorrell said.

"It's not just looking at the very top, but how can we move those that are struggling up?" Sorrell asked.

The Renaissance program began in 1988 and is in about 6,000 schools in the United States and Canada.

Renaissance founder Larry Biddle was among the crowd in the gymnasium to give an inspirational speech on the power of commitment.

Biddle said there are three levels of commitment: I will try, I will do my best and whatever it takes.

He said the "whatever it takes" level is the level of real commitment.

"America just can't sit around," Biddle said after the speech. "We have to do whatever it takes. You can get smart by hard work."

Biddle said the key to the program is that no one gets anywhere without teachers.

"The teaching profession controls all the other professions," Biddle said, noting the legal and medical professions.

"All students are gifted. They just don't open their packages at the same time," Biddle said.

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