“It feels great. It’s hard to talk about it — there’s not many words to describe it,” Nesbitt, one of 18 recipients, said, following the seventh GateKey Signing Ceremony, held at the Cartersville High School auditorium.
While her favorite subject is science, Nesbitt said when she does attend college she plans to study art.
“This right here is like the epitome of anything you could ever imagine,” mother Audra Kellogg said. “She is the first one in our family to get one and it’s awesome. I can barely contain myself right now.”
Cartersville Schools Foundation President Lisa Bell explained in a press release, “The Cartersville Schools Foundation’s GateKey Scholarship program establishes two-year scholarships for eligible students and gives them the opportunity to work toward an attainable goal of a college education.
“Through a partnership with Georgia Highlands College and Chattahoochee Technical College, students may attend either college and be provided funds for tuition, fees, and a book allowance for two years. Students wishing to attend another college may request to use their allotted funds elsewhere.
“Students may be nominated for a GateKey Scholarship in grades 6 through 11. Applicants must be approved for free/reduced lunch. If selected, students will be required to sign a contract along with their parents/guardian. The contracted obligation requires the GateKey Scholar to maintain at least a ‘C’ average in each class, study and complete assignments, require no disciplinary action, and remain crime and drug free.”
Gov. Nathan Deal previously announced the state’s REACH scholarship would be modeled after the GateKey model, which Superintendent Howard Hinesley brought to the city after serving as a superintendent in a Florida public school district with a similar program.
“This has been a very good year for GateKey. We’ve had wonderful success for our program and we’ve had a banner year for fundraising. In fact, in seven years we’ve topped the $1 million mark in raising funds for this program,” Hinesley said.
During the ceremony, current GateKey seniors were given a stole and spoke on what the scholarship opportunity means to them.
“I became a GateKey scholar when I was in eighth grade ... On behalf of all the GateKey scholars, I’d like to say thank you,” senior Dalicia Diamond said. “... The GateKey Scholarship program has offered many of us a college opportunity we may not have had otherwise. Some of us may be the first in our family to attend college. We understand what we are being given is an opportunity not all students receive; we all must remember that and find a way to give back later.”
CHS Principal Steve Butler said the success of the program can be attributed to the responsibility presented on both ends of the academic spectrum.
“I think this GateKey program is a wonderful example of giving our kids a reason to come to school each day,” Butler said. “It’s also a good example of letting every kid know that they’re special and that they’re important.”
This year’s recipients are sixth-graders, Anysia Boozer, Collin Buffaloe, Destiny Nesbitt and Trinity Turner; seventh-graders, Omaga Arnold, Esmeralda Cervantes, Trey Hinson and Muhammed Lara; eighth-graders, Jacob Carpenter, Amari Lyons and Samantha Morris; ninth-graders, Devin Brown, Terri Cole, Malcolm Cooley II and Pedro Robledo; 10th-graders, Rosie Burgs and Kennedy Gamble; and 11th-grader Marissa Moore.
The Cartersville Schools Foundation also awarded its $1,000 Hurricane Turn Around Scholarship to senior Warren Carson. The Superintendent’s Hero Award was presented by senior Tommy Smith to his mentor Bill Dial.