Two eighth-grade Lewis Frasier Middle School students have joined the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen program, also known as REACH, and promised to graduate from high school.
Domonique King and Patrick Underwood III signed contracts Oct. 11 during a ceremony at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center, committing to maintain good attendance, behavior, have at least a 2.5 grade-point average and graduate high school.
If they keep their promise, they’ll get $10,000 scholarships to any HOPE-eligible college in Georgia.
REACH is a needs-based mentorship and college prep program, starting in the eighth grade through high school.
Torri Jackson, Liberty County School System student services support specialist and district REACH coordinator, said the community raised more than $7,000 toward the scholarships.
“Many of our Georgia colleges have agreed to match the scholarship and several, such as Georgia State … and Mercer University have all pledged to double or match the REACH scholarship,” Jackson said. “This means the total amount awarded could be $20,000 to $30,000.”
REACH scholars also agree to meet with mentors and academic coach each month to develop plans.
“REACH not only helps our students graduate from high school it gives them the tools to complete college and return to our community and into our workforce,” Jackson said.
Underwood and King are the eighth and ninth scholars in Liberty since the program started in 2015.
Enyce Roberts, a 2015 REACH scholars, congratulated the students.
“Being a REACH scholar over the past two years has been an amazing experience,” Roberts said. “It has given me another perspective on life.”
She said an aunt had told her she wasn’t smart enough to earn a scholarship or attend college. Roberts said that motivated her.
“The following month I got an application for this scholarship and that change my life,” she said. “But what I’m telling you today is that you have to move those barriers out of your way.”
2016 scholar Lillian Fealy also congratulated the new signees.
The district received a commendation from the state for participating in the program, which was presented by Angie Wilson of the Georgia Student Finance Commission. The commission administers the program.
She said since the program started in 2012 more than 1,200 Georgia students from 103 school systems have signed contracts.
The keynote speaker for the evening was Anthony Johnson, assistant principal at Joseph Martin Elementary School.
Johnson shared a story of a little boy who went out swimming too far and started to drown. The boy’s father threw out a rope and the boy caught it, but it started to tear. The father yelled to his son to “Reach beyond the break.”
He told the students they have value even if life and others discourage them.
“Life has a way of trying to crumble your dream’s ambition and passion. And in this life, not only will life try to beat on you but people will too. When life deals you those tough blows don’t get mad, don’t try to curse people out, don’t get vindictive, don’t try to get revenge, just keep reaching,” Johnson said.
The signees were joined on stage by their parents. After the students signed so did their parents, agreeing to attend REACH activities and show support.
LCSS Interim Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry thanked the students. He hoped that next year there will be at least four or five REACH scholars.
Joseph Martin was also acknowledged for raising over $1,000 for the REACH program. Refreshments were provided by Lewis Frasier Middle School.