CMS Earns College Bound Gold Star Recognition
Centralia Middle School (CMS) staff and students have been recognized for their efforts in encouraging participation in the College Bound scholarship program. The Washington Student Achievement Council notified the District last week that CMS is one of the top-performing schools in the state, earning the distinction of being named a Gold Star school.
The College Bound Scholarship program provides financial assistance to qualifying high school graduates. Their aid helps cover college cost gaps that remain after a student receives federal and/or state financial aid.
Centralia Middle School starts encouraging families to sign up for the program as early as 7th grade, but their primary focus is on 8th graders. In the qualifying period, nearly 88 percent of qualifying students signed up for the program. “We had 224 students who could have been eligible in 8th grade. We got 197 kids to successfully sign up for the program,” said CMS Counselor, Laura Hoff.
“They (counselor Laura Hoff and Career and College Counselor Amy Hendrickson) go keep track. They have a countdown of how many kids qualify and how many have signed up” said Principal Kristeen Johnson.
“Laura will handwrite notes to put on applications to give to students, we meet on-on-one with students” to keep the awareness of the program there in order to encourage students to sign up, said Hendrickson.
Though the main share of work to sign students up for the program happens at the middle school level, the importance of the student pledge carries on throughout high school. “We keep track of the students who have signed up for the program to remind them of their pledge and the fact that there’s this resource out there to help them with college if that’s where they want to go,” said Counselor Jim Parker. Freshmen at Centralia High School reaffirm their College Bound Pledge.
CHS holds several family nights to provide help to families who want to fill out the FAFSA or WAFSA. “They’re intimidating forms,” said Parker. The counseling staff at CHS also frequently send messages to families and students reminding them of their pledge throughout their high school career. Parker said he believed the College Bound program helps encourage academic performance and on-time graduation by giving students hope for their post-high school plans.
To qualify for a College Bound Scholarship, a student’s family must earn up to the state’s median family income, which is $97,000 for a family of four. In addition, students must pledge to maintain a 2.0 grade level average or higher, not be convicted of any felonies, and they must apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) at the beginning of their senior year.