By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer
Fifty-eight Buchtel High School seniors will receive college scholarships of $4,000 each at Project GRAD's 5th Annual Scholarship Awards and Student Recognition Dinner on Thursday.
The public awards ceremony and reception begins at 6 p.m. at the House of the Lord, 1650 Diagonal Road. There is no charge, but reservations are requested. Call 330-761-3133 for a reservation.
This year's graduating class has the most scholarship recipients since the national program began working with the Buchtel cluster schools in 2002 to increase high school and college graduation rates.
''We had two years of 41, the first year, and then last year, we had 41, '' said Jacqueline Silas-Butler, Project GRAD Akron's executive director.
The scholarship winners completed the requirements of the Project GRAD Akron Learning Contract, which include:
• Take two credits of a foreign language.
• Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5.
• Attend two summer college institutes at the University of Akron, which exposes students to the rigor of college and life on campus.
• Take the ACT or SAT college entrance exams.
Once in college, or a trade school or a vocational program, the scholarship recipients must maintain a 2.0 GPA. They receive the scholarship in increments of $500 a semester over four years.
Project GRAD has worked at improving transitions between schools, especially from preschool to kindergarten and middle school to high school.
The organization worked with the Early Childhood Education program at Kent State University on a two-week kindergarten readiness program this summer at Crouse, Rankin and Schumacher elementary schools.
''We're doing it again,'' Silas-Butler said. ''We're recruiting students for that.''
Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders recently competed in a spelling bee, and winners received starter college savings certificates. The organization also has programs for sixth- and seventh-graders at Perkins Middle School.
Perkins has another reason to boast: Sixth-grade teacher Jacqueline Clayton was named the district's 2010 teacher of the year.
Project GRAD works with eighth-graders to prepare them for high school when their grades will count toward graduation and college acceptance. ''There's such a difference from elementary to middle school to high school,'' Silas-Butler said.
The organization has awarded more than $600,000 in college scholarships so far to Buchtel High School seniors.