Through Appalachian Educational Talent Search, 16 Harlan County students attended one of three short summer programs designed to combine cultural activities with college preparation through tours and spending time on campuses.
According to Harlan County Appalachian Educational Talent Search coordinator Jamie Middleton, students in grades 9-12 had the opportunity to spend the first week of June on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Students stayed on campus in the university dormitories to get a glimpse into college life. Students worked with faculty and graduate assistants in the theater and computer information systems departments to make short films about their lives. Students learned to use video and computer equipment to edit their films, scanning in film segments, adding snapshots, words and animation. At the end of the program, each participating student received a copy of their film on DVD to keep.
In mid-June, Appalachian Educational Talent Search sponsored a trip for students in grades 8 through 12 to Chattanooga, Tenn. These students toured the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and other area colleges. Students also visited Rock City, the Chattanooga IMAX theater and the Tennessee Aquarium.
For the third and final trip at the end of June, students in grades 8 through 12 traveled to Atlanta. While in Atlanta, students toured the Georgia Technological Institute and the University of Georgia. In addition to these college tours, students also visited the CNN Center, the World of Coca-Cola Museum, the High Museum of Art and attended an Atlanta Braves game.
Rachel Ford, one of the students participating in the Atlanta trip, said, “CNN and Coca-Cola were my favorite places. They were very educational and interesting. I enjoyed the entire trip.”
All the trips were free of charge to participating students, including travel expenses, meals and lodging. Additionally, the students were able to meet students from other counties involved with Appalachian Educational Talent Search including Bell County, and Campbell, Claiborne and Scott counties in Tennessee.
The Appalachian Educational Talent Search summer programs, in addition to simply preparing students for college, touring colleges, and exposing students to different cultural activities, aim “to foster (students') social and relationship skills. It sort of helps to build relationships. These students meet kids from other schools, other states, and they form friendships, and they kind of learn how to cohabitate with one another. They'll share hotel rooms or dorm rooms at the colleges and learn how to get along with each other. It gives them a taste of what college life will be like.”
Appalachian Educational Talent Search was originally founded in 1965 under the Higher Education Act of 1965, along with the Upward Bound and Student Support Services programs. The purpose of Appalachian Educational Talent Search is to identify students who are from low-income families or who intend to be first-generation college graduates, and encourage and motivate students to finish high school and enter into postsecondary, vocational or technical school.
These students, said Middleton, “may face some obstacles. Talent Search was originally created to help them overcome obstacles, whether those are obstacles of geographical area or income obstacles or race obstacles or disability obstacles.”
During the school year, Appalachian Educational Talent Search provides such services as college counseling, financial aid counseling, career counseling and assessments, help with study skills, ACT or SAT preparation, and will even pay for one ACT or SAT test for students in the program. Students are also counseled in social skills, such as conflict resolution, transition to college life and self-esteem. The program takes students on several college tours as well, and, most years, at least one cultural activity during the regular school year.
To become a part of Appalachian Educational Talent Search, students must fill out an application. Applications will be available to students attending James A. Cawood, Evarts and Cumberland high schools in early to mid-August. You may reach Middleton by calling 573-7135 with questions or for additional information.