Locals here in Athens, Georgia, are abuzz with a couple paragraphs in the remarks on education that President Barack Obama delivered yesterday at a College Opportunity Summit in Washington, D.C.
Obama underscored the uneven playing field on which high schoolers compete for college admission, recalling: “[W]hen I was taking the SAT I just barely remembered to bring a pencil. I mean, that’s how much preparation I did.” He continued:
‘So we’ve got a young man here today named Lawrence Harris who knows this better than most. Lawrence went to the University of Georgia, and like a lot of first-generation college students it wasn’t easy for him. He had to take remedial classes. He had to work two part-time jobs to make ends meet. At one point, he had to leave school for a year while he helped support his mom and his baby brother. Those are the kinds of just day-to-day challenges that a lot of these young people with enormous talent are having to overcome. Now, he stuck with it. He graduated.
‘But now he’s giving back. He’s made it his mission to help other young people like him graduate, as a college advisor at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia. And today the National College Advising Corps, the program that placed Lawrence in Clarke Central, is announcing plans to add 129 more advisors who will serve more than 80,000 students over the next three years.’
News of the shout-out traveled fast from D.C. to Clarke Central, high school to my son and more than 1,400 others. CCHS’ diverse student body comprises blacks (57%), whites (22%), Latinos (17%), Asians (2%), and multiracial children (2%). (image credit) Nearly 2/3 of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Programs, like the award-winning Odyssey on-line-and-in-print magazine, are exemplary. The school’s overall graduation rate is climbing, thanks to the students themselves and to the support of their community and teachers – not to mention advisors like the one Obama singled out.