Gov. Nathan Deal met with eight Bibb County middle-schoolers in Macon on Tuesday and made them offers they didn’t refuse.
Four eighth-graders from Appling Middle School and four from Ballard-Hudson Middle School each signed contracts promising to maintain a 2.5 GPA, good attendance and behavior. In exchange, each student will receive $2,500 per year for a total college scholarship of $10,000.
What’s more, most colleges in Georgia are matching or double-matching the needs-based scholarship called REACH — Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen.
The scholarship provides opportunity, which Deal said “is the key that unlocks the door to your future, but it doesn’t push it open. … It is your hard work, it will be your dedication (and) the support of your family that will push that door wide open.”
Recipients from Appling Middle School are Alivia R. Johnson, Cody L. Mason, Kennedy M. Randall and Amari R. Stubbs. Recipients from Ballard-Hudson Middle School are Amauri N. Cotton, Jasmine E. Martin, Altanese D. Palmer, Anaya N. Patterson.
The REACH scholarship was launched by Deal in 2012 and has grown to 685 scholars in 69 school districts. About $6,750,000 in state taxpayer money has helped pay for the scholarships.
Tuesday marked the first time recipients were chosen from Bibb County.
Aisha Thompson, 34, swelled with pride watching her daughter Anaya Patterson sign the contract Tuesday morning at the Hutchings College and Career Academy on Anthony Road.
Studying fashion at Spelman College and becoming president are in Patterson’s sights.
“This is when they either get interest or lose interest. … She already works hard and she gets great grades. This just shows her that it pays off,” Thompson said of her daughter. “We as parents can tell them, ‘Hey, you do right, good things are gonna happen.’ … But this helps her to see that.”
Cody Mason, an Appling Middle School student who also signed with Deal, said the scholarship money “is a pretty good incentive” to keep his grades up.
“I think I could do it because I really give it all I got,” Mason said. “I never take a rest. Every minute I’m home, I study because I’m just trying to keep my grades up the best way I can.”
Mason, 13, said he plans to study technical engineering, something he said that is “like a natural talent of mine.”
Deal said he believes that by 2020, 60 percent of jobs will require a diploma beyond high school. Also by 2020, Deal said he plans to have about 2,800 REACH scholars from all 180 school districts.
“People are going to be watching you,” Deal told the students. “And you’re going to be expected to live not only up to the obligations of the contract that you will sign, you’re going to be expected to go over and above. … And I have every reason to expect you will.”