Class of 2024 REACH Scholars honored

Pictured (L-R): Front row - Candace Jones, Emily Xochicale-Flores, Catherine Garcia, and Arumy Venegas; Second row - Cage Hickman and Gage Bunch

Board of Education & Foundation celebrate the graduation of program’s seventh of ten cohorts

Bulloch County REACH Scholars, who are graduating from high school this year, were honored and recognized on May 9.

The Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education, who underwrites the REACH Georgia program for the school district, and the Board of Education hosted a reception for six scholar graduates, their families, school counselors, and mentors, and recognized them afterwards during the Board’s regular session.

Originally selected as eighth-grade students from their respective middle schools, these scholars have now successfully met the academic, attendance, and behavior requirements of the REACH Georgia program throughout all four years of high school. They will each receive the $10,000 in college scholarship funds which were earmarked for them upon their initial selection into the program. They may also be eligible for additional limited funds if they are attending one of the 63 participating public colleges or universities in Georgia. These funds are in addition to any financial aid they may receive from the HOPE Scholarship.

Counselors at the district’s three high schools serve as REACH mentors and academic coaches for the scholars. These scholars received guidance from these counselors: Dee Dee Thompson (Portal), Laquanda Love (Statesboro), and Erin Martin (Southeast Bulloch).

These are this year’s REACH Georgia Scholarship graduates:

  • Gage Bunch, Portal Middle High: Gage is an honor graduate and Portal’s STAR student. He has initially enlisted in the United States Army, and he will later attend college and major in computer science. He scored in the 98 percentile on the ASVAB test, and has been approved to train as a cyber operations specialist in the Army. He will receive this highly specialized training in Augusta, immediately after he completes his basic training this summer. 
  • Emily Xochicale-Flores, Langston Chapel Middle; Statesboro High: Emily is an honor graduate. She plans to attend Georgia Southern University, and she is interested in either business administration or psychology as a major.
  • Catherine Garcia, Langston Chapel Middle; Statesboro High: Catherine is an honor graduate. She plans to attend Ogeechee Technical College and major in diagnostic medical sonography.
  • Cage Hickman, Southeast Bulloch Middle; Southeast Bulloch High: Cage is an honor graduate. He plans to attend Georgia Southern University and pursue a degree in exercise science toward his goal of becoming a physical therapist.
  • Candace Jones, Southeast Bulloch Middle; Southeast Bulloch High: Candace is an honor graduate. She plans to attend Georgia Southern University and major in information technology.
  • Arumy Venegas, Langston Chapel Middle; Statesboro High: Arumy is an honor graduate. She plans to attend Ogeechee Technical College and major in cosmetology.

About the REACH Georgia Scholars Program

REACH Georgia is a needs-based mentoring and scholarship program designed to ensure that the state’s academically promising students have the academic, social, and financial support needed to graduate from high school and complete college.  Bulloch County is one of five school systems that the state initially selected to pilot the program. The Georgia Student Finance Corporation holds the scholarships for scholars until they graduate from high school. The scholarships may be used at more than 63 colleges and universities in Georgia, some also provide supplemental scholarship funds to REACH Scholars as funds are available.

A total of $560,000 in college scholarships have been awarded to Bulloch County’s 2013 through 2022 REACH scholars. This is in addition to any HOPE Scholarship or other private scholarship funds the students may receive. 

Eligible students must meet the following requirements for the program when they initially apply in the eighth grade and remain in compliance throughout their four years of high school: (1) be currently be in the eighth grade at a participating, eligible Georgia middle school; (2) demonstrate financial need; (3) have legal status in the U.S. (U.S. citizen or legal resident); (4) have and agree to maintain above average attendance and behavior; (5) have grade reports reflecting minimum grades of 75 or better in each core course (2.5 GPA); (6) have and agree to maintain a crime-free and drug-free record; and (7) have the support of a parent, legal guardian, or other committed adult.

As a pilot school system, Bulloch County Schools was originally awarded a total of ten $10,000 scholarships by the state. As a participating school system, Bulloch County Schools had to  identify a local corporate sponsor to continue the program. In Bulloch County, the Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education is currently the sole sponsor that keeps this program active in our community. The Foundation donates $7,500 ($1,500 per student) to help fund the $10,000 base scholarships. You can help in this effort by contributing to the Foundation, supporting its fundraisers or by becoming a corporate sponsor of the program. Donations are tax deductible. 

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