Fayette names eight first-ever REACH Georgia Scholars

Friday, September 6, 2019, was a great payday for some unsuspecting middle school students when they learned that they were the recipients of a $10,000 REACH Georgia Scholarship.

One by one, eight students spanning across four of Fayette’s middle schools were surprised in their classrooms with the news. The students are Carolin Perez-Lozada and Tohidul Islam of Bennett’s Mill Middle; Kya Martin and Katie Johnson of Rising Starr Middle; Skylar Moss, Alexandria Meadows and Alyssa Davis of J.C. Booth Middle; and America Espinosa of Flat Rock Middle.

These eight students are the first group from Fayette County Public Schools to receive college scholarships from REACH Georgia, a state public-private needs-based scholarship opportunity designed to encourage students, beginning in middle school, to continue their educational pursuits beyond high school. The initial award after they graduate from high school is $10,000 over four years, but that amount could increase to $20,000 if they attend a HOPE-eligible college or to $30,000 if they enroll in one of the institutions that will double-match it.

 “You have been selected because of your hard work and good behavior. We believe in you and know that you will graduate high school, go on to college or technical school and do great things. You have a whole team behind you to support you and make sure that you are successful. We are very proud of you and what you have achieved,” said Dr. Joseph Barrow, Fayette County Public Schools superintendent, as he personally congratulated each student.

Eligible students are eighth-graders who have attained “C” grades or better in core subjects, have good attendance and behavior records, and have proven financial need. Students and their families apply for the program through their school counselors. An advisory panel made up of local business and community representatives interview the applicants and select up to eight winners. The students sign a contract along with their parent/guardian to maintain a 2.5 GPA, remain crime, drug and behavior issue-free; and meet with a volunteer mentor and academic coach until they graduate from high school. An official contract signing ceremony for the eight winners and their families will be held on October 23 at the Fayette County Board of Education.

A total of 15 students applied to be part of Fayette’s inaugural REACH Georgia Scholarship group. The advisory panel members who selected this year’s eight recipients are Richard Carswell, BB&T Bank; Kathryn Snow, Eaton Lighting; Kim Schnoes, business/community volunteer; Dr. Tami Morris, A/V Pride; James Vance, NAACP; and school system personnel Dr. Charisse Windom, director of federal programs; Lakisha Bonner; coordinator of counseling and career development; Virginia Gibbs, coordinator of innovative partnership development and Fayette Reach Georgia Scholarship coordinator; and Sam Sweat, director of special projects.

Full funding for the scholarship’s first year is being provided through the Georgia Student Finance Authority. In following years, the school system will seek donations from business and community members to fund half the cost ($5,000) of each scholarship. These donations will be made through the Fayette County Education Foundation, a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization that solely supports Fayette County Public Schools. All donations are tax-deductible. For more information about donating to this program through the foundation, contact treasurer Melinda Berry-Dreisbach via email at berrydreisbach.melinda@mail.fcboe.org or call 770-460-3535.

Donations in the form of checks or money orders may be mailed to Melinda Berry Dreisbach, Fayette County Board of Education, 105 LaFayette Avenue, Fayetteville, Georgia 30214. Please indicate on the check or money order that the donation is for the REACH Georgia Scholarship.


  1. Congratulations to all of you.

    A special offer for some of you. I want to challenge 3 of the students to embark upon a project and I guarantee that regardless of the results of that project that I (along with 4 of my neighbors) will make up any shortfall in your college tuition. Seriously. Read on.

    Alexandria Meadows and Alyssa Davis of J.C. Booth Middle; and America Espinosa of Flat Rock Middle, chosen by me solely on the basis of first name, Alexandria and Alyssa because of 2 “squad” members with a same or similar name and America because you have to love her parents for naming her that. To me, you 3 are more important to our future than any of our so-called leaders in Washington.

    Here’s the deal. Conduct a controlled experiment with the mainstay media where you question them and challenge them to report honest facts about climate change instead of political talking points. Purpose of this is to ferret out some good old fashioned last century style reporting (think Mike Wallace and Bob Woodward – you can Google them or find them in Wikipedia under things we don’t do anymore). You do this by asking various media outlets to report on certain facts or questions and then compile there results sorted by media type, viewership or readership and make appropriate conclusions. You can get unlimited TV time and can say and ask almost anything because you are cute kids and smart kids and you are planning and working now for your future.

    Samples/suggestions of things one or more of you say during an interview:
    “I’d really like to know if we can really replace coal and natural gas as the energy source for the national power gris. How would that work?”

    “Can solar or wind energy be stored on batteries and put back into the grid?”

    “How many new windmills will we need to replace all the coal-burning energy plants in the US?”

    “Do you even know how the grid works?”

    “How many coal burning energy plants are there in the US?” (answer is 50)

    “Do other countries have to participate to solve global warming/ global cooling/climate change?”

    “I heard India and China have coal burning power plants. Wonder how many?” (answer thousands)

    “Will we have to go to war with India and China so we can take over their government, their economy and convince their people to convert to wind and solar power?” Sounds like nation-building to me.

    “So then, if no war with China and India do we restrict just Americans, spend billions of dollars and let China and India run free? How does that help?”

    “Anything else besides wind and solar to make energy?”

    “Hydroelectric, nuclear, anything else? Why not consider these”

    “Where does the power come from when I plug in my electric car for recharging?”

    You get the idea. Ask the media – including social media to put the actual science back into their reporting. In doing this you will educate thousands of people who lack the curiosity to do their own research and provide honest journalists with some real factual data for them to challenge political half-truths and outright lies. And being cute innocent kids you can say and ask almost anything and not be demonized by the gatekeepers of the political narrative. It would really be refreshing to watch.

    I am serious about funding your college but I also think I won’t have to because after you are 1 or 2 years into this experiment you will have scholarship offers from 100 different universities. If nothing else you will get several lucrative book deals.

    And any other students can do this as well. Might be interesting to ask your teachers what they think about some of these questions. But go easy here, teachers have to please Common Core, the teacher’s union, the school board and some version of political correctness along with a zero tolerance policy, so their answers may go through several filters. Just listen carefully then discuss with Mom and Dad – hopefully during a family dinner (you can look that up in Wikipedia as well).