Banks County Middle School awarded five of its eighth-grade students with a $10,000 REACH Georgia Scholarship.

Students recognized at the scholarship signing day ceremony were: Aidan O’Kelley, Erica Thomas, Tiana Roger, Cole Whitehead and Hunter Reems.

Principal Michael Boyle welcomed guests to the program. “This is the largest award in the Banks County system,” stated Boyle. “We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate the success of these fine young men and young women here today.”

During the ceremony, guest speaker Hank Ramey, assistant superintendent, spoke to students giving them life advice and then recognized the students receiving this honor.

Students then signed a contract accepting the scholarship. Ramey explained to students their obligations and responsibilities before it was signed. Students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average in academic classes, remain drug and alcohol free and continue to have good attendance and behavior.

Each student will be assigned a mentor which they are required to meet with twice a month. The students will also have an academic coach who will meet with them once a month. Students are encouraged to attend REACH program events and activities.

During the program, parents and guardians also pledged to support the students throughout the process.

Ramey stated that the money will go into an account where students will receive $2,500 each year for four years totaling $10,000 while enrolled in a Georgia college. Ramey also said that students are still eligible for the HOPE Scholarship and other scholarships as well.

REACH Geogia was launched on Feb. 6, 2012, at the Georgia Institute of Technology with funding from AT&T. Over the years the program has grown and many sponsors have awarded $350,000 in student scholarships annually.

Students expressed their gratitude and appreciation as a 2021 REACH Georgia scholarship recipient.

Erica Thomas, who received the Hoyt and Ruth Parson Phi Delta Eastern Star Reach Scholarship, said, “I feel like it’s a really exciting opportunity because it’s not every day that someone gives you $10,000. It’s even more exciting that I’m in the eighth grade getting this opportunity before I even start high school.”

Tiana Roger received the ETM Memorial Reach Scholarship.

“I am grateful because there are a lot of students that could have received the scholarship," she said. "Only five were selected out of 12 students who signed up for the interview."

Aiden O'Kelley, who received the Banks County Republican Party Reach Scholarship stated, “I feel really happy that I received this scholarship because it was a lot of competition to go up against. I am glad I was able to get it especially since I was quarantined when I had to do my interview.”

Hunter Reems and Coal Whitehead also expressed their appreciation as the scholarship will help them to earn a degree in technology. Reems received the HBC Roofs Reach Scholarship and Whitehead received the Commerce Country Café Reach Scholarship.

Principal Michael Boyle then congratulated students on their accomplishments and closed the ceremony and invited guests to celebrate at the reception honoring its scholars.

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