Governor, IRSD team up for college-prep talks

Date Published: 
September 23, 2016

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Usually behind the camera, these Indian River High School yearbook students paused from their work to be in the photo with Gov. Jack Markell. Pictured, from left, are: Kevon Harmon, Samantha Mushrush, Katelyn Wells, Angelina Roca, Markell, Fabrea McCray and Trayona Nock.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Usually behind the camera, these Indian River High School yearbook students paused from their work to be in the photo with Gov. Jack Markell. Pictured, from left, are: Kevon Harmon, Samantha Mushrush, Katelyn Wells, Angelina Roca, Markell, Fabrea McCray and Trayona Nock.Life has changed since Gov. Jack Markell graduated from Newark High School in 1978. Back then, he said, people could get a decent job immediately after high school.

Nowadays, to find a job “that’s going to allow you to pay the kind of life you probably want to lead, you’re going to have to pursue additional training after high school,” Markell told Indian River High School seniors this week. “That doesn’t mean you have to start immediately after high school. But in order to advance, you’re really going to have to continue to invest in your education.”

Markell isn’t saying everyone needs a two- or four-year degree.

But the State of Delaware has invested in post-secondary training, and students should, too, Markell told the IRHS senior class on Sept. 20.

His visit was part of Delaware Department of Education’s third annual senior class tour, which supports students in transitioning from high school to college and career.

Delaware College Application Month allows all Delaware seniors to apply to Delaware colleges for free, effectively bypassing the application costs, which can add up. IRHS is participating Nov. 14 to 18. Sussex Central High School is participating Nov. 16 to 18 and Nov. 21.

There are also programs they can take advantage of, such as the SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) Scholarship.

“In Delaware, when you graduate from high school, if you have a 2.5 GPA or better, and you have stayed out of trouble, you can get your two-year degree basically for free,” Markell said. “It’s only the cost of the books” at Delaware Technical Community College.

Delaware State University also has a similar program, the Inspire Scholarship.

Having been both a student and a father, Markell said he knows that senior year can be fun and challenging. He emphasized the importance of students staying “focused until the very end. … Even seniors, it’s important that you continue to focus and challenge yourselves.”

He encouraged them to look for special opportunities during senior year, including making use of school counselors.

“Take advantage of the fact that they are there for you, and learn about the opportunities out there,” Markell said.

In that vein, IRHS Principal Bennett Murray reminded the students that his No. 1 goal is their health and safety. But his secondary goal is to “get you guys ready for your next step, whether it’s the workforce, whether it’s military, or post-secondary education. … In seven months, I’m going to be shaking hands with you as you walk across that stage” at graduation, he reminded them.

“I wish you luck,” Markell said during what was likely his final IRHS visit as governor of Delaware. “This is a great high school you have, and an unbelievably dedicated group of educators in this building, [and a] phenomenal superintendent.”

Several learning opportunities have been planned for district families. The IRSD Parent Center was set to host three scholarship workshops this month. Parents or students should register online at www.irsd.net or by calling (302) 732-1522. The workshops include:

• Paying for College presentation: Thursday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m. at Sussex Central High School auditorium, covering applications for need- or merit-based financial aid; grants, scholarships, work-study and loans; FAFSA forms; and how colleges determine financial need.

• FAFSA Submission Workshop for Seniors: Thursday, Oct. 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Indian River High School computer lab, with a hands-on workshop to help parents and guardians complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

• College Scholarship Workshop & Fair: Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Indian River High School. This informational session includes information on finding scholarships; tips for writing effective scholarship essays; and representatives from local colleges and scholarship organizations.