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Five lucky Grady County eighth graders have a “jump start to a new beginning,” according to Grady County assistant school superintendent, Tilda Brimm.
Ms. Brimm also declared that the five students awarded REACH Scholarships Tuesday morning are the “chosen few.”
This year’s recipients are Taliyah Denise Ausgood – Whigham School, Journi Rakiya Bell – Washington Middle School, JaLeah Roshell Brown – Washington Middle School, Morgan Skye Jackson – Washington Middle School, and Isidoro Resendiz-Chavez – Shiver School.
Grady County school superintendent, Dr. Kermit Gilliard, pointed out that there are 358 eighth graders in the county, but only five of them are awarded a REACH Scholarship. The superintendent told this year’s recipients that most Georgia public colleges and universities will double the scholarship and a select few will even triple it.
“As an eighth grader, $10,000 may not mean much to you now, but to the parents who are with us today they know how significant it is and depending on where you go to school it could be $20,000 or even $30,000,” Dr. Gilliard said.
The Grady County School System hosted its annual REACH Scholarship awards ceremony this week, but the audience was limited to school principals and the family of recipients, due to COVID-19 protocols.
Assistant school superintendent, Janet Walden, also congratulated the five recipients and encouraged both them and their parents to “reach out any time you need help or support.” Walden pledged that the school system’s teachers, administrators and central office staff are available to assist the children in any way possible.
Each of the five eighth graders is eligible for a $10,000 scholarship upon successfully graduating from high school. Even if the child moves out of Grady County, but remains in Georgia he or she can keep the scholarship. The students are required to sign contracts pledging to maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average, have no discipline issues and to regularly attend school through the remainder of middle school and high school.
“I take part in a lot of ceremonies throughout the year, but I enjoy this one almost as much as I do graduation,” Gilliard told the audience Tuesday.
While the bulk of the funding for REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) scholarships comes from the state, the local system is required to raise $7,500 annually as the local match.
“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.
Contributors this year included: Ameris Bank, Cairo Animal Hospital, Capital City Bank, Envision Credit Union, Law Office of Charlie Ferenchick, James H. (Jimmy) Douglas CPA, One Source Solution, PDC Construction Company, Taylor Benefits/Rep. Darlene Taylor, Terry Prince Accounting, and United National Bank.
REACH targets the approximately 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. The scholars are also able to apply for additional scholarships that can be paired with REACH.
“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 Grady County Schools finance officer, Dan Broome, 122 North Broad Street, Cairo, GA 39828. Put REACH on the check’s 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.