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Colquitt County’s REACH Program gets its first set of graduates

April Castaneda- 17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (blue shirt) Da'Naiza Williams-17-year-old...
April Castaneda- 17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (blue shirt) Da'Naiza Williams-17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (pink shirt) Miguel Escobar-19-year-old Colquitt County Senior (blue polo) Sonji Hargrove- 18-year-old Colquitt County Senior (black top) Pershaun Fann, Jr. – Colquitt County School Graduate (plaid shirt)(WALB)
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 8:33 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Five Colquitt County High School students are the first to graduate from their Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Program. Former Gov. Nathan Deal started it to encourage students to complete college in Georgia.

WALB’s Nathalie Moreau spoke with the graduating REACH class about their experience.

Students at Colquitt County High School are making the grade through their REACH program and it’s provided them skills to make it through high school and find their way to college.

April Castaneda- 17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (blue shirt) Da'Naiza Williams-17-year-old...
April Castaneda- 17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (blue shirt) Da'Naiza Williams-17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (brown sweater) Miguel Escobar-19-year-old Colquitt County Senior (grey sweatshirt) Sonji Hargrove- 18-year-old Colquitt County Senior (black jacket)(WALB)

“The REACH program really is just something that is somewhat of a support blanket in a way and it really just helps you to see that you can go above and beyond what the standard for high school really is,” said Sonji Hargrove, an 18-year-old senior.

Students are invited into the program from middle school to help them navigate academics and prepare for their future during their studies in high school.

“It’s kind of like a, like a relief because when I was in ninth grade. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was one of those kids that were just like, I might not even go because I don’t know what I wanted to do. But when the REACH program came along, it started to help me with everything and it started to make me see that I can do more in high school and I can want to be something when I get into college,” said Da’Naiza Williams, a 17-year-old senior.

Program Advisor Shatarra Brown says the program is important to the students.

April Castaneda- 17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (blue shirt) Da'Naiza Williams-17-year-old...
April Castaneda- 17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (blue shirt) Da'Naiza Williams-17-year-old Colquitt County Senior (brown sweater) Miguel Escobar-19-year-old Colquitt County Senior (grey sweatshirt) Sonji Hargrove- 18-year-old Colquitt County Senior (black jacket) Shatarra Brown – Colquitt County School Counselor (plaid shirt)(WALB)

“I think it’s very important because it gives them a sense of hope. And no matter their background or their economic status, that someone is there rooting for them and someone is invested in them and that makes them feel that they need to invest in themselves,” said Brown.

The REACH members gave advice to middle school students who may be interested in this program.

“Take every opportunity that this program offers you because it will take you far and it will take you far beyond far you get to network with people, meet different people and it just shows you all the possibilities for beyond high school,” said Hargrove.

I asked some of the students what their biggest takeaway from the program was and this is what they had to say.

“Not to limit myself that was my biggest takeaway,” said Miguel Escobar, a 19-year-old senior.

“To really get out there don’t be in your comfort zone, if you want to make something happen you got to get out of that comfort zone,” said Hargrove.

“I kind of felt like before this program, I kind of felt like I couldn’t like I wasn’t good enough for the scholarships but now it actually taught me and gave me the encouragement to, encouragement and determination to apply for more,” said April Castaneda, a 17-year-old senior.

For more information on the REACH program, click here. One of the REACH graduates not featured, Pershaun Fann, Jr. has graduated early and already started college.

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