Youth program comes to a close

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 4, 2006

WINTON – Despite an apparent successful tenure in the Hertford County School system, Gear-up NC will cease operation effective June 30.

Gear-up, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a national initiative by the U.S. Department of Education designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education.

Hertford County was one of 25 counties in North Carolina to participate in the program.

Robert Chadwick, Gear-up Coordinator for Hertford County Middle School and High School, said that after six productive years the program was not able to secure the funding it needed to continue.

&uot;No other grants were produced by the county to continue,&uot; Chadwick said. &uot;As bad as the county’s students need this program, we just couldn’t garner enough support to continue to finance it.&uot;

Chadwick, a former admissions counselor at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, had managed the program since 2004.

A brochure produced by the North Carolina division of Gear-up claims that 75 percent of students who participate in the program favorably change their plans about attending college.

Chadwick said the results in this region were even more significant.

&uot;We have been able to see many students who were performing marginally become first generation college attendees in their families,&uot; Chadwick said.

Hertford County was chosen to participate in the program because the county met several criteria that deemed the region needy for a program of this type.

The criteria used to determine a county’s eligibility included the percentage of students who were eligible for free lunches, the percentage of students entering post secondary institutions and the percentage of students in the school district who were completing college -bound curriculum.

The program traditionally operates under two types of grant support structures, one given directly to the state and another that offers the revenue to regional partnerships.

Partnerships may include multiple school districts, community organizations and religious groups among other programs.

Chadwick, who recently accepted a position with Roanoke Chowan Community College as Coordinator of Weekend and Evening Programs, reiterated the success of Gear-up in Hertford County as well as its continued need.

&uot;Three-fourths of the students who participated in Gear-up made the honor roll and 95 percent of them passed the EOG exams,&uot; Chadwick stated. &uot;What was really spectacular was seeing the parents of some of these same children become familiar with the process and importance of post-secondary education and seeing them take advantage of the same opportunities.&uot;

During Chadwick’s tenure local Gear-up participants traveled to Raleigh to work with the CIAA Basketball tournament, initiated a holiday food drive, and had a presentation at Hertford County High School by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to mention a few of their achievements.