District kicks off $50 million scholarship challenge

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

The Clayton County School System's graduating class of 2011 received an estimated $18 million in scholarships to attend college –– not including the Hope Scholarship –– according to Dr. Alicia Dunn, the coordinator of guidance and counseling for the school district.

Now, counselors throughout the system are trying something new, in hopes of encouraging students to double this year's scholarship total.

In the 2011-2012 school year, the district's Department of Guidance and Counseling is launching what it is calling the "$50 million Scholarship Challenge," an initiative school officials say will help inform students and parents of what scholarship opportunities are available, and encourage more students to apply for those scholarships.

"I think it will be well-received," said Dunn. "I think, overall, student's knowing they have the support of the district will help get them to the next level."

The main goal, said Dunn, is to make sure every student in the district will have an opportunity to succeed, as well as guiding both students and parents through the process of filling out college applications, and updating them on scholarship information.

"Most students think you have to have a high grade-point average to apply for scholarships," she said. "But, there are plenty of scholarships available to students who do not have a high grade-point average."

Dunn added that her department will host a total of six community forums for parents and students, to offer support and assistance to seniors who are graduating this year.

The first forum, she said, will be held Aug. 17, at 6 p.m., at the Professional Learning Center, located at 1087 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro.

"The purpose for the community forums is to explain the support piece of the challenge, throughout the school year," said Dunn.

In addition to the forums, Dunn said, her department will continue to send out weekly newsletters to high school seniors with updated scholarship information.

She said, although this is an initiative being pushed the district, school officials are also asking community members to get involved. Residents can help submitting any scholarship information to the follow.

Students and parents can also get updated information on scholarships speaking with their career and academic advisors, said Dunn. She said scholarship information can also be found on the Department of Guidance and Counselors Facebook and Twitter pages, which are the following:

• Facebook.com/ccpsschoolcounselors,

• Twitter at ccpscounselors.

"Our students are talented," she said, "and we want to put the [scholarship] information at their fingertips."