THE 2019-2020 REACH SCHOLARS from Grady County are, l-r, Addysen Curtis, Carlton Mobley, Keya Hunter, Leah Hartley and Ashley Serrano-Torres. These five eighth graders are eligible for $10,000 scholarships upon successfully graduating from high school. They signed contracts pledging to maintain a minimum of a 2.5 grade point average, have no discipline issues and to regular attend school though the remainder of middle school and high school.
Five local eighth graders with their sights on going to college after graduating from high school, inked contracts Tuesday as the third class of Georgia REACH Scholarship recipients was announced.
REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) scholarships were awarded to Addysen Curtis, a Whigham School eighth grader; Leah Hartley, a Shiver School eighth grader; Keya Hunter, a Washington Middle School eighth grader; Carlton Mobley, a Whigham School eighth grader; and Ashley Serrano-Torres, a Washington Middle School eighth grader.
Cairo High School Principal Chris Lokey was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s signing ceremony.
Lokey told the REACH scholars about this year being the first at Cairo High School to utilize the wall-to-wall academy model. He said that there are four different “schools” within the high school including the Ninth Grade Academy; the School of Agriculture, Trade and Industry; the School of Fine Arts; and the School of Health Care and Human Services.
“Our Ninth Grade Academy is a safety net to help you be successful transitioning from the eighth grade to the high school experience. In our Ninth Grade Academy, we focus on grades, attendance and making good choices. I am excited that I will be seeing each of you at the high school next year,” Principal Lokey said.
The CHS principal went on to explain all of the course offerings available to REACH scholars in the high school’s different academies.
“You might think to yourself, that is a lot of courses. Well, our goal for your high school career is to make learning meaningful and relevant to you and focus on post-secondary life after high school whether it is college, technical school, a military career or entering the workforce in your chosen career,” Lokey said.
The high school principal encouraged the REACH scholars to take full advantage of the high school experience and to get involved in sports, band, chorus, clubs and other extracurricular activities available at CHS.
“Your high school years will be some of the best of your life. I would like to challenge you today to not only enjoy your high school career but to actually flourish academically as you attend Cairo High School,” Lokey said.
“The most rewarding part of my job as school superintendent is awarding graduating seniors their diplomas and presenting these REACH scholarships to five deserving eighth graders. Most of these children likely would not be able to attend college otherwise and to be able to give each of them an opportunity to receive a $10,000 scholarship is heartwarming to me,” Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard said.
“I’m also so thankful for a community that supports its public schools and youth. College should be available for any student who desires to undertake the task. REACH can truly make a difference in the lives of these young adults. It would not be possible without the support of caring local individuals and our local business community,” Dr. Gilliard added.
REACH Scholars are paired with a mentor and an academic coach from the eighth grade through high school. Scholars must maintain a 2.5 grade point average in core courses and have good conduct and attendance in middle school and in high school.
Those students who successfully complete the program and graduate from high school will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship that can be used at any University System of Georgia or Technical College System of Georgia institution.
REACH targets the 1.1 million low income students in Georgia’s public K-12 system, which adds up to 62 percent of the Peach State’s total student population, many who would be first generation college students.
Prior to officially signing their contracts, the students heard the requirements for successfully complying with the REACH program contract from Dr. Gilliard. Students must graduate high school and maintain a 2.5 GPA and remain crime, drug and behavior issue free while they are in school.
The school superintendent says that many institutions will match and some will double the REACH scholarship. The scholars are also able to apply for additional scholarships that can be paired with REACH.
Each year, $7,500 has to be raised locally to be combined with state funds to award $50,000 in scholarships annually.
Contributors to Grady County’s share of the REACH Scholarship match this year include: Emmett Brock, CPA; Cairo Animal Hospital; Capital City Bank; Jet and Demetrius Cox; James H. Douglas, CPA; Envision Credit Union; Dr. Jennifer Kendrick; Mr. and Mrs. Clifford (Bucky) Kimsey; Hester Insurance Agency; Koyo Bearings USA, LLC; Mills Rentals; New Hire Solutions; PDC Construction; Terry Prince, accountant; Dist. 173 State Representative Darlene Taylor; Southern Insurance of Cairo; United National Bank; and Walden Logging.
These local donors contributed a combined $10,225 for the REACH scholarships.
“This is an investment in our community’s future. It is a small investment that will pay huge dividends,” Dr. Gilliard said.
To make a donation, send contributions to Finance Officer Dan Broome, 122 North Broad Street, put REACH on the memo line. Contributions may also be made on the Reach Georgia website, but the superintendent requests that donors select Grady County in the drop down box so that Grady County Schools will receive credit for the donation and local students will benefit. For more information, contact Dr. Gilliard at 229-377-3701.