“It’s one of the best things we do,” superintendent Chris McMichael said Wednesday, Oct. 23, about four Barrow County eighth-grade students and parents signing REACH contracts as their selection for the program was officially announced.
REACH – Reaching Educational Achievement Can Happen – seeks to provide college access for students who might not otherwise consider education after high school.
Selected for the 2019 program were Jadyn Franklin, Bear Creek; Trinity Johnson, Haymon-Morris; Jayelan Ausby, Russell; and Jada Aldrich, Westside. The four have the opportunity to graduate from high school and start college with as much as $30,000 and a HOPE scholarship. The money would come from a $10,000 scholarship, funded by private donations and state money, and matching funds from Georgia colleges and universities.
McMichael noted that “literally” hundreds of teachers donate money to the scholarships
About 60 people attended the ceremony at the central school office. The four were announced earlier at their schools.
Five REACH scholars are seniors. They are Araceli Lopez, Winder-Barrow; Jasmine Roberts, WBHS; Regalado-Salas, WBHS; Sydney Winkler, Apalachee; and Aldo Rivas-Chicas, AHS.
The students often are the first people in their families to attend college. It was pointed out that one of this year's seniors, Franchesca Regalado-Salas, would be the second in her family to attend.
Attending the ceremony, in addition to McMichael, were Sherri Perry, Barrow County’s REACH coordinator; Ben Stout, field representative for Rep. Jody Hice and Brad Bryant, representing the Georgia REACH office.
Bryant said the state purposely established a “very patient and deliberative process.”
The REACH website says, “The overarching goal of REACH Georgia is to provide greater college access for students throughout Georgia and prepare them for the 21st century workplace.
“REACH wants to influence the postsecondary success, and ultimately life outcomes, of low-income students across Georgia.”
The scholarship program was started in 2012 with an announcement of a $250,000 donation from AT&T.
The program requires students to meet with school counselors, mentors who are assigned to them and to participate in REACH events, such as college visits. The REACH scholars in the program visited four colleges this year.
Parents also are asked to sign the contracts and agree to help their students reach the goals of maintaining grades and seeking out college information. Stout said the process “wouldn’t happen” without parental support.