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Five REACH Scholars sign contracts

By Rachel McDaniel Five Lamar County Middle School students recently signed REACH Georgia scholarships as Georgia’s First Lady Sandra Deal gave them tips for furthering their educations. Students earning the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen $10,000 scholarship included five members of the class of 2020 – Trinity Fuller, Julianna Solis, Chrislar Tacbianan, Alexa Tacbianan and Erieyuna Watson. Some of the advice the First Lady gave during her Sept. 30 visit included don’t miss school, choose friends wisely, keep a high GPA and remember mentors are there to help along the way. ’You need to lead the right kind of life to be examples to others so they can see that education is important and you have to set goals to meet them,’ said Deal. ‘My husband and I agree that education is the key to success and it’s not just the key for you but also for our whole state and our nation. What you learn every step of the way is important and it will come back to help you. You need to have a servant’s heart and sharing and helping in your community will be important.’ REACH Scholars are selected in middle school and sign a contract to maintain a certain grade average, remain crime, drug and behavior-issue free and agree to meet with a volunteer mentor until they graduate from high school. Their parents or guardians also sign a contract to support their student through their education. ’You are the first to be chosen in this community and what an honor it is,’ said Deal. ‘We hope you will work in a field that will make a difference in your life and in the lives of your family and the community – and maybe in the whole world. To keep this scholarship, you are only required to have a 2.5 GPA, but several colleges have said they will double or triple the scholarship amount so work hard to keep a high GPA each year.’ Students who complete REACH program requirements will receive a renewable yearly tuition scholarship of $2,500 to be used at any HOPE-eligible institution. This amount will cover the average gap between other needs-based scholarships, such as Pell, and the full cost of attendance. ’You can’t get through college on a $10,000 scholarship. I know that sounds like a lot of money but it won’t get you through college. You must work hard to earn other scholarships as well,’ said Deal, noting that students can earn the Zell Miller Scholarship to cover all tuition costs. ‘As part of the REACH scholarship, you will meet with your coach two times a month and once a month with your mentor. You will have somebody you know you can go to for help. But a lot of your education is up to you. It doesn’t matter how good the teacher is if you are not listening and paying attention. You have to seek after that knowledge.’ Identifying students and awarding REACH Georgia scholarship funding is organized in each participating school district. Superintendent Dr. Jute Wilson said the school system had 51 students who were eligible for the scholarship, with 33 applicants being narrowed down to 11 finalists. ‘This was an extremely tough choice to make,’ he said. ‘We receive a lot of emails from a lot of different vendors offering scholarships and student aid but a lot of times they lose sight of what we are really here for and that’s to help students. We were able to submit $1,500 to REACH Georgia and it could turn into $30,000 for each of these students. We give a lot of press to athletic signings – and those are great too – but nothing is better than this.’ Members of the local selection committee included Dr. Kiana Battle, Dorothy Carter, Joe Edwards, Diane Harvey, Linda Olivier and April Smith. Local financial sponsors of REACH include the Rotary Club of Barnesville, Joe and Pat Edwards and the Barnesville- Lamar Community Foundation. Launched in 2012 Gov. Nathan Deal launched the REACH Georgia program in 2012 and the program is funded locally through the Lamar County Schools system fund of the Barnesville-Lamar Community Foundation. Georgia Student Finance Commission president Tricia Chastain said Gov. Deal’s goal is to have the REACH program in every school system by 2020 – the year Lamar County’s first recipients will graduate. ’I want to congratulate these five scholars on achieving all that you have to be able to get to this point and all you will do as REACH Scholars,’ she said. ‘We house the REACH program and all grant and scholarships at our office and that’s important because we provide the administrative support so 100% of all the money raised locally for REACH will go straight to the next REACH Scholars. We have a saying at our office. It is, ‘˜The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

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