Five Dawson County Junior High School students and their parents participated in a REACH scholar signing ceremony this week, pledging to uphold certain program requirements for an opportunity to receive $10,000 scholarships upon graduation.
REACH, which stands for Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen, is a needs-based mentorship and scholarship program that begins in middle school and aims to provide students with the support they need to graduate from high school and start into college.
The REACH scholars will commit to maintaining good behavior, attendance and academic performance throughout junior high and high school, and they will meet with their mentor twice a month and their academic coach once a month to discuss their educational and career goals.
The selection for the scholarship involved applications and interviews, and a total of five eighth grade students were chosen out of the applicants, according to REACH Coordinator Nathan Hand.
“These five students were nominated by their teachers and administrators and completed applications and interviews in front of a panel before being selected to represent Dawson County,” Hand said.
The five 2020-21 REACH scholars are Breitling Freeman, Chloe Gonzalez, Roman Heiser, Leah Pogue and Jennifer Waddell.
During the signing ceremony, Superintendent Damon Gibbs addressed the scholars, praising their accomplishments so far and encouraging them to continue reaching for their goals.
“We talk a lot about opportunities and challenges of our students in the school district, and we have some challenges that are very difficult to overcome but we also have a lot of opportunities in this world,” Gibbs said to the REACH scholars at the ceremony. “There are 283 students in the eighth grade, and you are the five who were selected which is a pretty big deal.”
According to Gibbs, not only can the REACH program provide up to $10,000 per student to help pay for secondary education, but many colleges may also offer to double or triple that amount for academically driven students. This funding can ease the stress for families in paying for college, so the students fulfilling the program requirements and earning that scholarship can be a very big help.
“I just want to encourage you this morning to do the very basic things that these scholarships are tied to, get up every day and come to school, do your best and make good grades and use the support staff we put in place to help you academically get to where you need to be,” Gibbs said to the students. “I look forward to seeing you guys graduate and benefit from the REACH scholarship.”