County graduates earn a cool million

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2006

High school seniors across Butler County have racked up no less than $1,000,000 in scholarship monies, more than double the total amount awarded last year.

&#8220That number may very well climb…we still have some outstanding scholarships likely to be awarded to some of our students,” Regina Eggleston, college assistance program specialist, said.

In 2004-2005, a total of $424,292 in scholarships was awarded to local public school students. This year, approximately $600,000 in scholarship monies has gone to Greenville High students, with an additional $400,000 going to students at Georgiana and McKenzie High Schools.

Butler County Schools

Superintendent Mike Looney credits the huge increase to the system's new College Assistance Program (CAP) created last fall.

Eggleston, who coordinates the program, says the success of the program is due to &#8220a team effort of the students, their families, and the school staffs.”

Principal Kathy Murphy credits Eggleston's work, along with that of GHS counselors Tomesha Hamilton and Pat McNaughton, in helping secure the additional funds for GHS students.

&#8220Our counselors have done a terrific job for us. Despite having to be out of pocket for family and personal illness, Mrs. Eggleston has done a great job in identifying, applying for and securing scholarships ever since she joined us this school year,” Murphy said.

&#8220Some of these children simply would not be able to go on to school without this financial assistance - that's the bottom line.”

Eggleston's personal aim, she said, &#8220is to be a helping hand as we work through the complicated process of applying for a scholarship in today's competitive market.”

Hamilton agrees with Eggleston on the team aspect of the CAP program.

&#8220We all worked together. I focused on their transcripts and Mrs. Eggleston focused on helping with the application process. And it worked,” Hamilton said.

The CAP Program was created as part of the Short Term System Improvement Plan the system adopted under Looney's tutelage.

&#8220The increase in scholarship awards is a testament to the improvements we are making as a school district. Our employees and students are stepping it up a notch,” the superintendent said.

Students earning scholarships totaling $30,000 or more include: Tyquawn Gray and Latilda Hale, each recipients of a $50,892 Army Scholarship; Kenitra Lewis, awarded a $30,000 scholarship from Spring Hill College; Tiffany Owens, who received scholarships from Spring Hill College, Judson College and LBW Community College, totaling $75,280; Jaron Schofield, whose scholarships from Auburn University Montgomery, Troy University/Chancellor's Award and LBW Community College total $43,976; Candace Sturgeon, awarded a $35,000 scholarship from Alabama State University and Justin S. Tyson, awarded scholarships totaling $31,500 from Alabama State University, Tuskegee University and the Greenville Boys and Girls Club.

Candace Sturgeon, senior class president, is looking forward to starting her college days at Alabama State University. &#8220They are paying my tuition, room and board, books - everything,” the scholarship recipient said with a beaming smile.

Sturgeon plans to major in chemistry and go into the forensic science field.

&#8220When the (ASU) recruiter came and talked to us at school, she said, ‘Go ahead and apply, go for it.' And so I filled everything out and wrote my essay that same day.”

The GHS senior credits the efforts of Eggleston and her team in bringing in the bonanza of scholarships for Butler County.

&#8220Mrs. Eggleston has been a big, big help. She really keeps on top of us about all this,” Sturgeon said.

Looney is proud of this year's achievements for Sturgeon and other county seniors, but said he is still eager for more improvement in the system.

&#8220I am convinced our students can learn more; our standards are still not high enough. Every student should be able to achieve his or her potential,” Looney said.

&#8220For some that means Harvard, yet for others, it might mean graduating from a two-year community college or learning a trade. It's my goal, no -it's our goal to prepare a way for their success.”