Roughly 40 ninth-grade students rushed to the front of Finley’s River View High School’s lecture hall Wednesday.
They grabbed markers and signed their names to an orange banner promising to continue working toward college.
“River View High School is incredibly committed to doing college-bound events, reminders and celebrations,” Counselor Rebekah Duty said. “We do have a large population that goes on to further their education.”
Hundreds of high school students from Asotin to Prosser to Othello recently restated their commitment to continue in the state’s College Bound program.
The state Legislature created the scholarship program in 2007, with the goal of providing financial aid to students who might not attend college because of the cost.
The students initially apply for the program in seventh or eighth grade. They promise to graduate high school with at least a 2.0 grade-point average, not commit any felonies, and fill out state and federal applications for financial aid.
The amount they receive depends on their need and what type of school they choose to attend. It covers four years of higher education and can be used at 66 two- and four-year universities.
If you fail to remind them in high school that they have this opportunity, then they might end up making decisions ... that make it so they don’t get the scholarship.
Amandalyn Rubio, College Bound regional officer
The Finley event was part of the Washington College Access Network’s campaign to make sure students understand the requirements.
Transitioning between middle and high school can be difficult for many students, and can lead to loneliness, isolation and disconnection from peers, network officials said.
Ninth-grade students miss the most classes, earn the lowest grade-point averages and have the highest misbehavior rates, the network said, quoting a 2010 study published in Education Digest.
As a result, they are holding re-pledging events across the state. Amandalyn Rubio, the College Bound regional officer, is traveling throughout Educational Service District 123. Some of the events attract as many as 250 students.
“If you fail to remind them in high school that they have this opportunity, then they might end up making decisions ... that make it so they don’t get the scholarship,” she said.
Many of the students Rubio sees would be the first generation in their families to enter college, and aren’t surrounded by a lot of encouragement to continue their education.
Duty said the College Bound program helps students at her school make the transition to college.
“The earlier we can do that, the better,” she said.
It is the first year the network reached out to the ninth-graders. The impact of the re-pledge was positive, Rubio said. The events take different forms at different schools.