Lockhart ISD hopes new program will increase number of students it sends to college

Education

LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) – Lockhart ISD is hoping a new grant awarded to the district will help it increase the number of students who go to college.

In 2016, the district says only 36 percent of students who graduated enrolled in college. “We know that we aren’t sending enough of our students to college directly out of high school,” said LISD Superintendent Susan Bohn.

The grant program, called Gear Up, awarded the district $1.89 million and will provide support for over 450 current seventh-grade students through their first year of college. The program will give seventh-graders access to advanced academic courses, college advising and counseling, mentoring, and participate in college tours and job site visits. The district believes the help from teachers will make them more interested in college.

The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with the University of Texas. LISD is only one of eight Texas school districts selected for the program.

“It’s what’s best for our kids. We strive every day to have a college-going culture already, but to have this opportunity to be laser focused on a group of students from seventh grade all the way to their first year in college is just an amazing opportunity,” said Lockhart Jr. High School Principal Lori Davis.

“I’ve always wanted to go to college,” said seventh-grader Ruby Jaramillo. “I want to do criminal justice.”

With this program, school leaders say students like Jaramillo will have a better chance to achieve their dreams.

“If no one around them has attended college then they may perceive that they shouldn’t, or that they aren’t able to, or that there’s some barrier keeping them from college,” said Bohn. “For them to have this opportunity and have an understanding that they belong there is very, very critical.”

Those leading the program say they will do everything possible to make college an option for the students.

“I’ve had a couple of students at this age, so it’s not too early, saying ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do it, we don’t have money.’ and I tell them don’t worry about that, that will come from my area,” said Gear Up Campus Coordinator Art Mendez. “We will help them through scholarship programs and grants.”

The current grant only helps the current seventh-grade class. However, the district says it’s applying for similar grants so it can offer the program to all junior high grade levels next year.Editor’s Note: A previous headline indicated the program would fund their first year of college, however, the program is only providing funding to help students on the right path to college. 

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