Four Madison County eighth graders couldn’t help but smile as the crowd roared for them and they walked past cheerleaders toward a ceremonial signing table in the middle school gym Oct. 8.

Madison County’s new REACH scholars were recognized Tuesday with a scholarship signing ceremony. This year’s scholars, from the class of 2024, are Charlese Howard, Thaw Htoo, Erika Hull and Taylor Maxwell.

Madison County School Superintendent Michael Williams addressed the packed gym Tuesday. He explained that REACH stands for “Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen.”

“I am asking REACH Scholars, will you commit to keeping good grades, good attendance and behavior, meeting with your mentor and academic coach, and graduating from high school and college?” Williams asked the four students. “Students, if you make this commitment please reply with ‘I will.’…. These commitments are serious, but necessary for these scholars to reach their potential leading to very bright futures.”

The students made the pledge and signed the paperwork. Their parents also made the commitment Tuesday.

If REACH scholars fulfill their obligations over their eighth through 12th grade years, they are guaranteed a $10,000-to-$20,000 scholarship, and in some cases, a $30,000 scholarship.

Teachers make recommendations on who could be a REACH scholar based on academic promise. Students must also prove that they are the first generation of their immediate family to go to college.

Williams asked the community to support the students.

“Community members, it is incumbent on us, individually and as a community to affirm our willingness to support these REACH scholars in their journey to adulthood,” he said.

As part of this program, county school system is required to raise $3,500 per REACH scholar or $14,000 total.

“Without the help of our donors this day would not be possible,” said Williams. “I would like to take a minute to recognize our REACH Donors. Madison County Rotary Club, First Citizens Bank, Terrell Family Foundation, The Gholston Trust, and the Madison County School System employees. With these contributions our REACH scholars will have a strong financial foundation for post secondary education.”

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