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Students can ‘Reach’ for college

By Kay S. Pedrotti A scholarship program for ‘low-income, academically promising’ students, in particular those who may be the first in their families to attend college, will be available for the Lamar County school system in the 2015-16 school year. Dr. Jute Wilson was notified of the selection recently by Brad Bryant, executive director of Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen, an initiative launched by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012. More than 60 Georgia colleges, universities and schools of higher education are participating in REACH by providing matching funds to the state’s financing. Students are identified in middle school by teachers and administrators, Wilson said, and the program will start here next year with eighth graders. While attending school in a participating system like Lamar, they are mentored by adult role models at least twice a month and coached by academic specialists as they develop college and career plans. The coaches also monitor students’ progress, attendance and behavior throughout middle and high school, said the superintendent. After graduation, the students will be given $2,500 per year for up to four years while in college, with other funds contributed by the institutions. Wilson noted that deputy superintendent Cleve Hendrix will coordinate the program for Lamar County. In Bryant’s notification, the director commented, ‘Your (Lamar’s) application provided detailed information about the implementation of REACH in your school system.’ He congratulated the system for being chosen. Twenty-three Georgia school systems are now in the program, with more set to be added in the 2016-17 year. The legislature has appropriated $2 million for the program; many private donors are supporting the effort to get students to further their education beyond high school, said Wilson. REACH funds are administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission to ensure all private donations go to scholarships. For more information including a list of donors and colleges, go to or ’It’s great news for Lamar County,’ said Wilson. ‘We are look forward to getting on with the next steps to help our students.’

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