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Five eighth grade students at Screven County Middle School signed an agreement on Tuesday morning that is expected to hold great future opportunities for them.
With their family present as community leaders watched intently, the five signed the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Scholarship Program paperwork that afforded them the chance to earn tens of thousands of dollars toward a postsecondary education.
The program was launched by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012 and is a needs-based mentorship and scholarship program designed to encourage students, starting in middle school, to persist in their educational pursuits.
Students are provided with the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school, access college, achieve post-secondary success and be prepared for the 21st century workforce.
The SCMS REACH scholars are Khalir Nickens, Layla Reddick, Karl Thompson, Korey Washington and Elijah Williams.
The SCMS REACH semi-finalists were Havin Black, Kennedie Black, Le’Miyah Bordas. Jalijah Brodnex, Brett Moore, Freddie Rountree and Niasiah Waters.
Brad Bryant, who serves as vice president of REACH Georgia, congratulated the five students Tuesday for being selected by a three-person interview committee.
The students are agreeing to do their parts academically to receive a $10,000 scholarship upon graduation for college or technical school.
The students are required to attend a Georgia institution for the scholarship and some of the institutions will match the $10,000 scholarship award.
The students will have mentors from the community and their parents are required to provide the students with the necessary encouragement along the way through high school.
Bryant said the REACH program is a variation of the Florida Take Stock in Children program, but will some additional changes.
“What you want as adults is a life filled with purpose,” Bryant said. “Your aim is for you to finish that certificate or degree with zero or very low debit to repay.”
Bryant encouraged the students to look into dual enrollment or the Move On When Ready programs.
“I want to tell you how lucky you are to live in this community, in a community that cares,” said Georgia House Majority Leader Jon Burns. “This creates additional hope for all of us.”