By Karen Stokes
There’s been a long tradition of high school athletes declaring their collegiate choices during college signing events. In front of family and friends, they sign a letter of intent and proudly don the team cap from their chosen school.
On Thursday, April 30, the focus was on approximately 90 college bound, high school seniors from the Milwaukee area being honored for their academic achievement during the Boys and Girls Club Second Annual College Signing Day. The seniors work with the Graduation Plus program.
Andre Douglas, program manager of The Graduation Plus program, explained that Graduation Plus is an umbrella program for approximately eight college access and success programs through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
“Each program has their own requirements, the students are coached to do their own college applications and how to write essays.
They also went to over a dozen college tours,” Douglas said.
“They also learned how to apply for and find financing, scholarships and grants.”
The event, held at Direct Supply-Champions Hall, 6663 N. Green Tree Road, sported the sounds and sights of a festive celebration.
The powerful cadence of a drum line and a spirited cheerleading squad accompanied by shouts of excitement from proud friends and family evoked the significance of this moment for the students. College Signing Day began with the scholars being called to the stage and sit at the table with their college representative. Next, they were instructed to “sign their letter of intent and proceed to their future”. The scholars signed, and then proudly donned the team hat from their chosen school.
Representatives from schools across America were present to welcome their future freshmen.
Morehouse College, Cleveland State and Wesleyan were a few of the out-of-state colleges represented.
For students who opted to stay closer to home, representatives from local colleges including Marquette University, Cardinal Stritch College, and Universities of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Madison, and Whitewater welcomed the new students to their institutions.
“Wherever we send students, we form a relationship with the representatives,” said Alfred Parchia, director of program development for Graduation Plus.
“We continue to advise the students after graduation.”
Wisconsin Lutheran High School senior, Taylor Beaver, headed to UWWhitewater said, “I heard about the program through Andre Douglas, a family friend. In order to be in the program I had to maintain a certain G.P.A. and write an essay.”
Parents were appreciative of what the program had to offer.
Collectively, the signing participants have been offered $3,259,301 in scholarship funds.
Many of the students were the first generation to attend college in their family.
“I am ecstatic. It’s wonderful to see your kids go off and be on the path to their dreams.
She has about 80 percent of her college being paid for which is wonderful for our household, we’re so proud of her,” said David Beaver, Taylor’s father.
“Boys and Girls Club did a great job getting the kids ready for college.”
“As we continue to grow the program, we really want the community to celebrate the scholars the same as they embrace the success of the student athletes,” Parchia said.
So scholars, proceed to your future.