Clark State Community College will recognize 40 Champion City Scholars at a reception to be held in their honor at the Brinkman Educational Center on May 5. The reception begins at 5 p.m. and is open to the class of 2015 Scholars and their families. These Scholars will graduate from Springfield High School this spring with the majority starting Clark State this fall.
In 2003, the Clark State Community College Foundation recognized the need to encourage more local students to attend college. They collaborated with the Springfield City School District to annually identify middle school students who would become the first in their family to earn a college degree.
“Eighth grade students in the Springfield City School District complete a Champion City Scholars Program application that includes a personal essay and recommendations from school and community members,” said Steven Vrooman, program manager of the Champion City Scholars Program. “After the students meet individually with an interview team and the students’ eligibility is confirmed, a new class of Champion City Scholars is selected and announced.”
Students in the Champion City Scholars Program must attend school regularly, exhibit good citizenship, demonstrate satisfactory progress in classes, participate in Champion City Scholars Program activities and remain enrolled in the Springfield City School District; they must also be the first in their family to attend college.
“The Champion City Scholars Program represents Clark State’s long-term commitment to the mentorship, education and training of Springfield youth for success in careers and life,” said Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin. “A student who is accepted into and participates fully in this program - from eighth grade until graduation from Clark State with an associate degree - is indeed a driven and focused individual who has developed the skills to succeed and thrive.”
Once selected for the Champion City Scholars Program, students participate in activities to help them be successful in middle school, high school and college. Those activities include: monthly mentor/scholar meetings, college/career readiness-related after-school activity days and seminars/retreats and fieldtrips. “Quarterly parent meetings are held to provide information to help parents support their college-bound students,” said Vrooman.
Vrooman said 500 students from the Springfield City School district have been selected to be Champion City Scholars in the last 11 years, and 87 percent of the Scholars who graduated from Springfield High School enrolled in college after graduation; 61 percent enrolled at Clark State and 26 percent enrolled at four-year colleges and universities.
“The Champion City Scholar Program students may enroll in any college they choose, but the guarantee of a free college education is for Clark State only,” explained Vrooman. All Champion City Scholars receive the benefits of the program activities prior to college entrance, and many of them credit the program with helping them realize college was attainable.
“The Champion City Scholars Program has enabled many students to achieve their education and career goals,” said Vrooman. “We look forward to supporting many more.”
The application process for the 2015-16 class of scholars will begin in August of this year, with an application deadline of mid-September.