October 13, 2019–7:24 a.m.
On Friday, October 11, Rome Middle School hosted community members, faculty, staff, students and their families to witness the first-ever REACH Georgia Signing Ceremony as they announced the school system’s first-ever REACH scholars.
REACH Georgia is the State of Georgia’s first needs-based mentorship and college scholarship program. According to their website, the mission is to ensure that Georgia’s academically promising students have the academic, social and financial support needed to graduate from high school, access college and achieve postsecondary success.
Launched in February 2012, REACH Georgia rewards students for self-accountability, promotes parental involvement and provides motivation and support for students, all of which are factors that are critical to student educational achievement.
This year is the inaugural year for REACH Georgia at Rome Middle School, as the program continues to extend its influence across the State of Georgia.
After submitting applications, five students from Rome Middle School were chosen as REACH scholars. Those scholars are Ashley Aguilar, Nadja Brown, Chloe North, Ja’Leah Owens, and LakiaPeugh.
During the REACH ceremony, the scholars and their parents/guardians participated in a signing of a contract that bound the scholars to commit to maintaining a 2.5 GPA, remain crime, drug, and behavior-issues free, as well as a promise to meet with a volunteer mentor and academic coach until they graduate from high school.
“This is a historic day for our school system, our students and their families, and we look forward to watching these students reach all of their goals,” said Principal of Rome Middle School, Parke Wilkinson.
After several welcoming remarks from Wilkinson, he introduced members of the community who were also in attendance, alongside Rome City School Board of Education members.
Faith Collins, Rome City Board of Education Chairperson, served as guest speaker for the event.
“It is my honor to be a part of such a great event,” smiled Collins. “The five of you have such a bright future ahead of you and I will be looking, in five years, to be sure that each one of you takes advantage of this great honor. Because this is the first year, you girls get to set the bar for others that will come behind you. On behalf of the Rome Board of Education, we congratulate you and are so proud of each one of you.”
Dr. Dawn Williams, Rome City Schools Assistant Superintendent, then took the podium to talk about the REACH program and how it is impacting communities like Rome. According to Dr. Williams, “today, REACH serves 154 school systems across Georgia and nearly 1,800 scholars, committing over 22 million dollars in scholarships.”
Louis Byars, Rome City Schools Superintendent, then led the signing ceremony, as each scholar stood and accepted their obligations and responsibilities as a REACH scholar. All five girls stated, “I will,” before committing themselves to excellency.
“I am truly thankful for Mrs. Kirstin Thornante, our school social worker, as well as our staff here at Rome Middle School for helping us put this together in such a short amount of time,” said Dr. Williams. “We are super proud of the kids for this accomplishment and can’t wait to see them succeed in the future.”