REACH Scholars Commit to Strict Educational Path
Five 8th graders from J.R. Trippe Middle School have been awarded a scholarship designed to encourage them to pursue a disciplined track through high school and toward a postsecondary education. The students went through a competitive process and sat through a daunting interview to apply for and to receive the REACH Georgia Scholarship. The students are Jaden Bennett, Akasha Edenfield, Eben Glaser, Chestilyn Wadley and Kaiya Walker. At a ceremony held recently at Vidalia High School, Dr. Sandy Reid, Principal of JRTMS, said she considers this recognition of outstanding students one of her favorite days every year. Reid said, “This scholarship allows us to identify five students who we know, without a doubt, with financial and academic support, can go on to pursue careers and reach goals that will allow them to contribute to society and allow them to lead happy and successful lives. The fact that they are sitting here is an indication that we have 100% faith in their ability to do something really special in pursuing whatever postsecondary aspirations that they have.” Dr. Reid had the opportunity to listen to the students’ interviews, even though she did not score them. She was amazed by how the students were able to communicate their aspirations, what they need to do to reach their goals, and how their strengths allow for a good fit in the REACH program. Above and beyond the virtual job shadowing and career development programs at the middle school, Reid attributes the students’ skills to the parents’ encouragement and thanked them for sending their students to JRTMS. In speaking to these 13 and 14-year-olds, Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox said, “I don’t know if I could have understood at 14 years old, or even at 18, that when I graduated I would have a $10,000 scholarship. And all I really had to do is show up, graduate, carry myself like a young man, and that money would be there at the end of a four-year track though Vidalia High School.” Wilcox continued, “It’s hard to explain how valuable an opportunity this is for you kids, and for you as parents. You ought to be very proud of yourselves. This is a special day.”
This is the fourth year that the Vidalia city schools have participated in the REACH Georgia Program. The first group of scholars are now Juniors. Next year, when that first group will be graduating Seniors, will truly be a time for celebrating, Dr. Wilcox remarked.
REACH is the State of Georgia’s first needsbased mentorship and college scholarship program. The mission is to ensure that Georgia’s low income, academically promising students have the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school, gain access to college and achieve postsecondary success. Upon successful completion of the program, qualifying students earn a $10,000 scholarship ($2,500 max/year or $1,250/semester) towards the cost of attendance at a HOPE-eligible postsecondary institution.
To be eligible for the REACH Georgia Program, a student must: 1. Currently be a rising 8th grader at an eligible Georgia school in a participating district.
2. Demonstrate and provide proof of financial need.
3. Have proven legal status in the United States (U.S. Citizen or legal resident).
4. Have good attendance and behavior.
5. Have grade reports reflecting at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average in core courses.
6. Have a crime and drug-free record.
7. Have demonstrated the support of a parent, legal guardian, or other caring adult.
REACH Scholars have committed to follow a rigorous educational path to be eligible to receive their scholarships upon graduation. They are currently minding the ABC’s of nationally recognized early success indicators which include: A(ending school
Preparing to succeed
in post-secondary school as reflected in good course performance.
scholars have experienced the power of advocacy in meeting regularly with their mentor and academic coach.
Since the program’s launch in 2012, the REACH Georgia program has had nearly 2,400 students participating and serves 154 school systems.