Thirty three students from Manistee County schools will make history at a scholarship induction ceremony scheduled for tonight (Sept. 14) and they will do something a group of students from Manistee County has never done before; receive a commitment to attend West Shore Community College tuition free.
The induction for the first-ever cohort of ninth-graders will take place in the WSCC Center Stage Theater at 6 p.m.
Financially supported by Manistee County residents Bill and Marty Paine and with the collaboration of the College, the Manistee County Community Foundation, and all six Manistee County high schools, the Manistee Commitment Scholarship Program will annually accept nominees who are ninth-grade students with academic promise and financial need.
Each year, Commitment Scholars will be selected to receive four years of support throughout high school to prepare them for college. They will then attend WSCC tuition free, for up to 60 credits or three years, to enable them to earn an associate degree.
"This is a game-changer for these ninth-graders and for the future of education in Manistee County," said Mary Ann Behm, program coordinator of Launch Manistee, a program administered through the Manistee County Community Foundation. "Thanks to the Paine Family, students in Manistee County should never say never to the prospect of college enrollment."
Behm said the program will be managed by Beth Wallace who recently joined the Launch Manistee team and was previously the coordinator of a similar program at Northwestern Michigan College.
Under the program, Wallace will support the students with guidance and training involving personal development, financial planning, academic readiness, college exploration and community service. The students, along with parents, commit to full participation in program activities, to demonstrate good citizenship and complete high school with a minimum grade point average of 2.33.
"Consistent with Launch Manistee's belief that collaboration is essential to the success of our students, the new Commitment Scholarship Program would not be possible without the generosity of the Paine's, the participation and support of all six of our school districts and school counselors and, of course, the dedication of West Shore Community College to support a college-going culture in the County," Behm said. "This is truly an effort where everyone wins.
Author: Thomas Hawley | Executive Director of College Communications & Community Engagement