Sonoraville’s graduation coach Trace Vaughn said that the summer tour was a part of each school’s program to improve graduation and “college going” rates, sponsored by Georgia Appalachian Center for Higher Education (GACHE).
“Students toured GACHE partner schools Emmanuel, Toccoa Falls and Truett-McConnell, as well as UGA, Ga. Tech and West Georgia,” Vaughn said.
Both county high schools were among 30 North Georgia high schools recipients that were awarded a $200,000 grant in fall 2010.
“What’s really neat about it is getting them to visit a college,” Vaughn said. “Their interest will peak and then they can see themselves on a college campus.”
Vaughn said the school has seen success from the graduation tours, and the graduation rates have almost doubled from 2003 to 2009.
In a countywide look at graduation, the graduation rate climbed from 44.8 percent in 2003 up to 81.3 percent in 2009, Vaughn said.
Additional local sponsors for the summer college tour included the Gordon Optimist Club, Calhoun Kiwanis, Fairmount Kiwanis, GCHS Big Warrior – Little Warrior Club, GCHS Apprenticeship Program, and the SHS Key Club.
To be eligible for the Appalachian Regional Commission, the systems have to use GACHE’s model program strategies to assist and encourage students to continue their education beyond high school by enrolling in and completing a post-secondary program.
One example Vaughn explained is the GACHE Reality Store. The store is designed as a career exploration tool that helps students develop learning skills for goal planning, decision making, attitudes about careers and learning, and improving the quality of life through education.
According to gache.org:
GACHE’s mission is to “move the finish line from high school graduation to post-secondary and career success.” GACHE partnered schools look to achieve an increase in post-secondary enrollment with the key to the sucess being developing a “college-going culture.”