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October 22--  A dozen local middle school students have an opportunity to earn a $10,000 college scholarship as part of the state's "REACH" program to give needs-based students a hand-up after high school.

Jennifer Herring with the Georgia Student Finance Commission says, "It's a win, win and a win.  It's a win for the scholars, it's a win for the community and it's a win for our state."

Seven of the students attend J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia including Brycen Coleman who hopes to become a turbine engineer, "It's a better chance for me to go to college and get through college and help me better my education for the future."  

His mom, Patricia, notes "He's going to have to reach hard at everything he does, academics and sports and study hard in school.  It gives him encouragement to continue to do good and words can't describe how proud of him I am."

Five new REACH students from Toombs County Middle School include Analia Flores who plans to become an orthopedic surgeon, "It's means a lot because I get a chance to go to a college I want to go to."

Her mom, Virginia, believes this will pay off for her daughter, "She wants to be a doctor.  We told her that in order to be a doctor she needed to do good in school, graduate and pick a good college.  So, we've been motivating her."

REACH was started six years ago by Governor Nathan Deal and Herring says results so far are good, "We've had two graduating cohorts of REACH scholars across the state and we currently have 49 in college.  Not only did they meet the requirements of the program, they far exceeded out expectations.  Those 49 had an average GPA of 3.3 in college and 37 of those 49 were either HOPE eligible or Zell Miller scholarship eligible as well."

Students and their parents signed REACH contracts in a joint ceremony Monday morning at Vidalia High School.

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Vidalia students are (L-R) Alexandria Williams, Kailyn Walker, Tania Rodriguez, Emily Morgan, Brady Edwards, Jason Davison and Brycen Coleman.

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Toombs County students are (L-R) Damian Vanauken, Bryan Trejo, Asia Mobley, Jessica Harter and Analia Flores.

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