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Bainbridge students R.E.A.C.H. for the stars

Three eighth graders were all smiles Tuesday morning as they signed their REACH Georgia Scholarship contracts at Bainbridge High School.

REACH Georgia is a needs-based scholarship that begins in 8th grade. The scholars are paired with a mentor and an academic coach through high school. The scholars must maintain good grades (2.5 GPA in core courses), behavior and attendance; the scholars who successfully complete the program and graduate from high school are awarded a $10,000 scholarship that can be used at any HOPE- eligible institution in Georgia.

The 2017-2018 REACH scholars are Kursten Branson, Jared Davis and Kevin Ramirez.

“We’ve always had a great group of kids, who are very deserving and we are very proud of what they’ve done,” Superintendent Tim Cochran said.

Representative Darlene Taylor described REACH as a strategic investment into Georgia’s future. When looking to the future, she recognizes how important children are.

Assistant Superintendent John Wooden explained to the scholars that the first hurdle of receiving the contract is over, but now the real work begins. He urged the students to treasure what they have been offered and not take it lightly. He reminded them this scholarship has the power to change their future and gave them three challenges. He first challenged them to plan for success.

“Success does not happen overnight and it is not coincidental,” Wooden said. “You have to plan, you have to sacrifice, and you have to give up things for what is important.”

Second, he challenged them to prepare for setbacks. He wished he could promise them that would it be an easy road from now until graduation, but felt he would be lying. He said it was up to them if they let these setbacks get in their way. They could view them as a private pity party or stepping stone or springboard to grow.

Lastly, he challenged them to persevere for their purpose. He told the students they are a cut above the rest, and they are destined to lead and change our society for the better.

Davis was one who has persevered. Parents, Joy and Jack Davis said their son was the one who was the driving force behind the paperwork. He saw his older brother in high school and wanted to follow in his footsteps. They said Davis was already looking at attending University of Georgia or Georgia Tech one day.

“I’m most looking forward to my parents not having to pay for my college,” Davis said. “I feel more independent, and I’m thankful for the mentors.”

Governor Nathan Deal spoke to the crowd through a video message and reminded the community that they are also taking a vow to prepare the young children for the rigors beyond the classroom and the challenge of adulthood. 

After the students and parents signed the REACH contract, the community took a vow to help in their endeavors in any way they could as well.

Cochran reminded the students that while it may seem the sky is falling when they turn on the news, the sky is the limit here in Decatur County and the community will see to their success.