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2012 Newton grads offered nearly $15 million in scholarships so far

Three NCSS seniors named Gates Millennium Scholars

COVINGTON — Three Newton County 2012 graduates are part of the 1,000 students across the nation to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

About 24,000 students across the University States and its territories applied this year.

In the Newton County School System, awards were given to Alcovy High School’s 2012 valedictorian Robert Hight and Newton High School graduates Nancy Ejike and Laporsche Thomas.

The scholarships can be used to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at the accredited college or university of their choice.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding low-income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program also provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support.

Hight has been accepted to Oxford College, where he plans on majoring in biology and pursue a degree in Pre-Med.

“Robert Hight is a very academically talented student,” said Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter. “During his high school career he exhibited a tremendous amount of academic focus that has allowed him to be awarded not only the Gates Millennium Scholarship, but several other scholarships as well.”

Even though Ejike and Thomas are best friends, the recent graduates of Newton High School didn’t know each other had applied for the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program until they both received confirmation that they had been selected.

“I was surprised and blessed,” said Ejike. “I have the chance to become somebody completely different — this is a chance to change your entire life and go to a school that you never thought you could.”

Laporsche said it hasn’t hit her yet that she was one of the ones to receive it.

“I’m humbled and blessed more than anything,” she said.

Ejike is considering a major in pathology/Pre-Med at Emory University and a minor in sign language, while Thomas plans to major in mass communications with a minor in psychology at the University of Georgia or Spelman College.

“Nancy Ejike and LaPorsche Thomas are two fine examples of the high caliber of students we have at Newton High,” said their principal, Dr. Craig Lockhart. “They are both serious students who have focused on high personal standards for success. These young ladies are able to compete at a global level, and they will enter into the world both college and career ready.”

NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said this is an extraordinary achievement for the three students.

“To be among just a thousand students in the United States to receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship is truly outstanding in every way,” he said. “It just goes to show that hard work and perseverance matters in school and also brings real rewards.”

COVINGTON -- This school year's graduating seniors have been offered nearly $15 million in scholarships to date, according to figures provided by the three Newton County high schools.

Alcovy, Eastside and Newton high schools are reporting that the Class of 2012 has been offered more than $14.6 million so far in scholarships. Totals include academic, athletic, military, merit-based and local offers.

"As always, we are most proud of our graduating seniors," said Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews. "Fourteen million in scholarship offers is quite a large sum, and it speaks to the college-ready students we do enjoy in NCSS. Going forward, we seek even more college-ready graduates."

Some students were honored with scholarships during school Honors Night programs, as well as during graduation ceremonies. More offers could come in throughout the summer.

To date, Alcovy High School's offers total nearly $1.4 million, Eastside High's nearly $4.3 million and Newton High's more than $9.1 million.

Alcovy High School

Alcovy's 317 graduates making up the Class of 2012 has so far earned at least $1,389,966 in academic, athletic, merit and military scholarship offers.

The total does not include the HOPE scholarship, which is calculated separately.

The amount includes $11,800 donated by various local organizations, like the Covington Lions and Kiwanis clubs, Snapping Shoals EMC and Newton Medical Center, among others. Additionally, 30 different colleges and universities contributed to this year's scholarships, including Georgia Perimeter College, Mercer University, Duke University and Oxford College, according to the school.

Eastside High School

The 277 graduates that make up Eastside's graduating Class of 2012 has earned $4,283,488 in scholarship offers.

The total does not include the HOPE scholarship.

Local scholarships were awarded by such organizations as the Chase Cain Memorial Foundation, the B.C. Crowell Scholarships, the Covington Lions Club, Snapping Shoals EMC, the Newton County Arts Association and Newton Medical Center, among others.

Students accepted athletic scholarships to Appalachian State, Cleveland State Community College, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Middle Tennessee State University, as well as others.

Academic scholarships accepted include Auburn University, Birmingham Southern University, Georgia Southern University, Samford University and Hawaii Pacific University.

Newton High School

Newton High's 362 graduates this year have so far earned $9,103,348, including nearly $2.5 million for the HOPE scholarship for 156 eligible seniors.

Local scholarships awarded include Bethlehem Baptist Church, General Mills, Newton Medical Center, Snapping Shoals EMC and the Rotary Club of Covington.

Band students alone earned nearly $2 million in scholarship offers to schools like Fort Valley, Clark Atlanta University, Mississippi Valley State, Tennessee State and Savannah State College, according to the school.

Several students earned nearly $2 million in basketball, football, baseball and softball scholarship offers to schools like Furman University, Mercer University, Kentucky State, Jacksonville State and Georgia Perimeter College.

Academic scholarships were offered from Spelman College, Mercer University, Emory University and Clemson University, among others.