2016-09-21 / Front Page

REACH scholars


REACH students at Tuesday’s signing, from left, Chrishaud Alexander and mother Chankithdia Alexander, Shantira Barnum and mother Marcella Mays, Brandon Cook and grandfather Tommy Odom, Akiria Graham and mother Jennie Brown and JaQuan Wright and mother Felisa Ricks. REACH students at Tuesday’s signing, from left, Chrishaud Alexander and mother Chankithdia Alexander, Shantira Barnum and mother Marcella Mays, Brandon Cook and grandfather Tommy Odom, Akiria Graham and mother Jennie Brown and JaQuan Wright and mother Felisa Ricks. Five Early County Middle School students have been chosen to join REACH Georgia. Entering the second year of the program, the ECSS now has 10 students in the program.

A signing ceremony was held Tuesday at the Middle School at which the students signed contracts to maintain a certain grade point average, remain crime, drug and behavior issue free and meet with a volunteer mentor until they graduate from high school. Their parents also signed contracts to support their student through their education.

This year’s REACH students include Chrishaud Alexander, son of Chankithdia Alexander; Shantira Barnum, daughter of Marcella Mays and Len Barnum; Brandon Cook, grandson of Tommy and Jeanie Odom; Akiria Graham, daughter of Jennie Brown and Lakedrick Graham; and JaQuan Wright, son of Felisa Ricks and William Wright. Students who entered the program last year include Savannah Craft, James Gilbert, Asiaonna Jones, Brittany Moreno and Ke’Varius Taylor.

“This program can change the lives of these students,” stated School Superintendent Bronwyn Ragan-Martin.

When these scholars graduate from high school, they will receive up to a $10,000 scholarship — $2,500 each year for up to four years — to be used at a HOPE eligible Georgia college. Many colleges are matching the REACH scholarship and some are double matching the scholarship, providing scholars additional resources for their college education.

REACH Georgia is a key component of the governor’s Complete College Georgia initiative, which calls for and identifies strategies for the state’s public and private colleges to add an additional 250,000 college graduates by 2020 and ensure these students graduate with relevant postsecondary degrees in a timely manner.

In the past year, the REACH Georgia Program grew from 41 Georgia school systems and 330 students participating to 69 school systems and approximately 700 students participating. The program’s growth and expansion plan is for all 180

Georgia school systems and over 2,800 students to participate by 2020.

More than $1 million has been raised from private entities such as Georgia Power, Verizon, Wells Fargo and the University System of Georgia Foundation. School systems have raised more than $80,000 and the State General Assembly approved $2 million for both 2015 and 2016.

Local REACH supporters include: Gold Level – the Pilot Club, Early County Literacy Task Force, Patricia Cleveland Literacy Fund, the Rotary Club and Olam Edible Nuts; Blue Level – First State Bank, Early Trucking Company, Damascus Peanut Company, Commercial State Bank, Birdsong Peanuts and Bank of Early.

REACH representative Sara Neeley attended Tuesday’s ceremony and presented a proclamation to Ragan-Martin recognizing the school system’s participation.

To learn more about the REACH Georgia Scholarship Program, visit www.reachga.com.

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