College lands big grant to aid high school students

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2007

FRANKLINnPaul D. Camp Community College has been entrusted with a $1.2 million federal grant that will not only prepare high school students for college, but, according to one high school guidance administrator, will actually propel some students to graduate high school.

&uot;There are some kids,&uot; said Scott Weatherford, director of guidance at Southampton High School who has some experience in similar grants, &uot;who not only wouldn’t have gone to college (without the grant program) but maybe wouldn’t have graduated high school.&uot; PDCCC learned word this week that it was awarded the Upward Bound grant, a 5-year program aimed at training 50 high school students per year from three area high schools in everything from the Scholastic Aptitude Test, to being mentored by business leaders to shadowing those in the professional world.

Weatherford, who has worked most recently with a similar program run through Virginia State University, said, &uot;There’s just a large pool of young people who will benefit from something like this.&uot;

According to a press release from the office of Rep. Randy Forbes, the Upward Bound program provides fundamental support and opportunities to high school students to enable them to better prepare for college entrance and succeed in their higher education pursuits.

PDCCC plans to serve 50 students per year that meet the program’s criteria with their Upward Bound grant award. The high schools that will be targeted for help are Franklin High School, Southampton High School, and Lakeland High School in Suffolk. According to Dr. Patsy Joyner, vice president for institutional for institutional advancement at PDCCC, many of the program’s details are being refined, including identifying a coordinator of the program.

Still, the program is being greeted with open arms at the high school level. &uot;It will open up doors of opportunity for those students who would not normally have access to such help,&uot; said Ale Massenburg, guidance counselor at Franklin High School and who has prior experience in such programs.

Beverly Rabil, associate director of instruction for the Franklin schools, admitted she has not been briefed on the details of the program, but said, &uot;I am very excited about the Upward Bound grant. It is the first time such a program has been made available to Franklin High School students,&uot; Rabil said.

Other programs she said have proven to work.

Upward Bound is targeted to serve high school students from low-income families, high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree, and low-income, first generation military veterans who are preparing to enter postsecondary education.

The ultimate goal of the Upward Bound program, according to the information released from Rep. Forbes’ office, is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from postsecondary schools.

Students who are selected are to receive a variety of services including weekly instruction and tutoring, individual advising, school break and weekend skills-building activities, and a summer enrichment program. PDCCC’s Upward Bound Program will also include local mentoring and job-shadowing opportunities with local business and industry partners.

Franklin’s Massenburg said she &uot;was really thrilled that (the program) is going through Paul D. Camp, because transportation was a major problem&uot; with previous enrichment programs through other sources further from the city.

Southampton’s Weatherford said before the program was being offered through Paul D. Camp, he learned that the funding through Virginia State was not renewed.

&uot;And I think that’s a shame,&uot; he said, &uot;Even though we’re at the far end of their area, we benefitted from the program.&uot;

But, he said, &uot;We were tickled to death about the program being offered through PDCCC.&uot; Weatherford said he sees a conflict between his personal viewpoints and the success of taxpayer grant money.

&uot;I may be on of the most conservative (sorts), personally, as you will find,&uot; he admitted, &uot;But I truly believe this will pay dividends.&uot;