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New program offers students support

August 27, 2012

Joyce Ellenwood

The Boys and Girls Club of Starkville is stepping up and doing its part to help area students prepare for a successful future.

Beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Boys and Girls Club launches Diplomas to Degrees, its newest program for teenage participants. Chief Professional Officer Joyce Ellenwood said the program was developed to assist local middle and high school students prepare for the college experience.

“The program concerns the work that goes into the whole college preparation process that covers every angle before these students even step foot on a college campus,” she said. “It’s a national program that we are now implementing at the local level.”

Ellenwood said elevated high school drop out rates and performance levels throughout Mississippi prompted the program’s development.

“It’s one of those things that we have said we want to help with,” she said. “We want to decrease those statistics.”

Ellenwood said she is thankful for Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, the event’s guest speaker, and looks forward to collaborating with the Starkville School District, Mississippi State University and local community groups and business to make Diplomas to Degrees a success.

“It’s great when we can have local figures supporting our cause that are connected to education and careers,” she said. “(Mayor Wiseman) will speak about the importance of finishing and continuing education and might share his personal story.”

Wiseman said the Boys and Girls Club is a wonderful program and has enjoyed his time working with its various members.

“I have been fortunate for more than a year to sit on the board and that has been a wonderful experience for me,” he said. “It has allowed me to learn much more than I knew previously about how valuable of an asset the club is to our community.”

Wiseman said he is impressed by not only the activities offered for children after-school and during the summer, but the remarkable growth opportunities for the children who attend.

“It’s important for young people to hear from adults who have once traveled were they are now, just how important this period (high school) in their lives is,” he said. “I don’t think I realized until I was in my mid-20s just how significant the decisions I made about my life in high school and the effort with which I began to pursue my future would be.”

Intended for members ages 13-18, Ellenwood said the Diplomas to Degrees program offers guidance and resources for a variety issues leading up to college.

“It’s going to help our middle school and high school students with graduating on time, finding colleges and scholarships through financial aid and making that transition,” she said. “It will provide them with the adequate resources needed for that process, and exploring their interests which leads to knowing what direction they want to go in.”

The kick-off for the Diplomas to Degrees program begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Boys and Girls Club located at 911 Lynn Lane in Starkville.

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