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Eight Hall students named REACH scholars
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Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County Schools, looks on as Christian Charles, a Chestatee Academy student, signs his “contract” as a REACH scholar Monday night. - photo by RON BRIDGEMAN

Eight Hall County middle school students left a “launching pad” Monday night when the school district’s first group of REACH scholars was announced.

Hall County joined about 70 other school districts in Georgia that are participating in the program.

The students will each receive a $10,000 scholarship for college or technical training if they complete the program. A number of the state’s colleges are matching the scholarship money.

The student also may add to it any other scholarships they receive when they graduate from high school.

REACH — Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen — started in 2012 and about 700 students are now part of it. The first REACH graduates are expected in spring 2017.

Terry Sapp, Hall County high school school improvement specialist, told the students the program is a “needs-based scholarship and mentorship.”

The program emphasizes those who would be first in their families to go to college.

Each student will receive academic support through an academic coach and a mentor. The student must meet with the mentor twice a month and the academic coach once a month.

School officials emphasized the “community of support” for the students in the program. Students must meet academic, behavior and extracurricular standards to complete the program.

Hall County students named Monday were:

• Christian Charles, Chestatee Academy

• Juady Lozada, Davis Middle

• Emely Arroyo, East Hall Middle

• Tania Gonzalez, East Hall Middle

• Denise Mejia, East Hall Middle

• Sarah Seid, North Hall Middle

• Darlyn Solis, North Hall Middle

• Karen Bravo, West Hall Middle

Mentors for the students will be:

• Ron Hoffman, Cyber Security Management, for Charles

• Brooke Kalinauskas, vice president, advertising and community relations, Conditioned Air System, for Lozada

• Staci Tunkel, Northeast Georgia Health System public relations, for Arroyo

• Angie Smart, senior sales agent, Keller Williams, for Gonzalez

• Laurie Ecke, assistant to the director of innovative and advanced progams, Hall County Schools, for Mejia

• Elizabeth Higgins, executive director of Vision 2030, for Seid

• Marie Davis, director of mentoring, Center Point, for Solis

• Helen Dunn, former media specialist, West Hall Middle School, for Bravo

Michele Hood and Stephanie Cookson, both with Early College, will oversee the program. Hood told the students they had homework Monday and the first field trip will be to Early College in October.

Each received a folder with information about the program. Hood assured them they would “fill it up by the end of the year.”

A crowd of school officials and parents filled the board room at the central school office for the ceremony.

The state provides the money for the first group of students, but in the next years, the local school district commits to raise $3,500 per student. The state plans to provide the other $6,500.

Schofield told the students the state and school district “reached down into the eighth grade and (said) collectively to the community, ‘we believe in you’” with the announcement of the scholarship.

He urged them to complete the program, get college degrees and come back to the community to be part of its future.

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