By Curt Yeomans
Two Mt. Zion High School students are going to receive more than a diploma on Saturday during the school's graduation ceremony.
State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) has donated $1,000 to Mt. Zion's Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) to fund scholarships for members of the Class of 2008. The money, presented Tuesday, will be used to establish two $500 scholarships, but PTSA officials will not announce the recipients until the graduation ceremony.
"It is imperative that we understand our education system is paramount to being a prosperous community," Glanton said. "Whether you have children in the school system or not, it's important that we come together to support the children in our school system ...
"If we show interest in these children, even as they are leaving the school system, they'll remember that, and show an interest in our community after they graduate from college."
Glanton said he is a member of several PTSA chapters throughout the county, including the one at Mt. Zion High School. He participates in functions, such as bake sales, and works with PTSA leaders to come up with new ways to support students in Clayton County schools.
He said the scholarship idea came up about eight months ago during a bake sale hosted by the Mt. Zion PTSA. Parents wanted the scholarships to help students who have academic talents for college, but lacked the financial means to afford higher education. "I made a personal commitment back then to fund these scholarships," Glanton said.
The state representative said he had never sponsored a scholarship before. He said the Mt. Zion scholarships are a "pilot," which could be expanded to include other high schools as early as next year. He said the money for the scholarships came from financial contributions he collects for charitable organizations, such as PTSA chapters in the county.
"It's extremely important that students earn some level of higher education, whether they go to a traditional four-year college, or a two-year vocational school," Glanton said. "We want them to know as long as they are pursuing some form of higher education, we are going to support them ... As a society, we should be available to offer support to these students."
Glenn Mitchell, president of Mt. Zion's PTSA chapter, said the students who will receive the scholarships were chosen by a screening committee. The committee looked at each student's application, and examined grade point averages (GPA), an essay written by the student .
Mitchell wants to see Glanton's donation spur more people in the community to support Clayton County students. "It is our hope that we can get people to give more money for scholarships, or to join the PTSA and become more active in the school," he said.