If George knew Relia …
If President Bush could see Relia Lee in action, he'd change his budget proposal.
Upward Bound provides mentoring and enrichment activities for potential first-generation college students. Participation also is based on family income. Upward Bound's sister middle-school program, Talent Search, also gets the axe in Bush's budget proposal.
JDCC's Upward Bound program serves 52 selected students from Escambia and Conecuh counties, including students at T.R. Miller, W.S. Neal, Flomaton, Escambia County and Hillcrest high schools.
To the students in the program, their beloved Ms. Lee is part mentor, part family, part disciplinarian. She sets high expectations for the students, and they don't want to disappoint her.
In an interview last summer, 2004 W.S. Neal Valedictorian Timiya Nolan talked about how the program helped her overcome her shyness.
Miss Nolan went on to earn scholarships totaling $39,340.
LaSharra Lee, who graduated from T.R. Miller last year, said, "If you want to be successful in life, Upward Bound is the best place for you to be in high school."
Statistics prove what students testify: Upward Bound works. More than 98 percent of those in the local program graduate from high school. Ninety percent go on to enroll in college and 8.5 percent join the Armed Forces. Almost all of those you attend college do so on a scholarship.
Several years ago, there was a story floating around JDCC about two former Upward Bound students who became friends as participants of the program. Both of them went to the same college, and one was on an athletic scholarship. The athlete ate his meals with teammates every day. His friend couldn't afford to buy food, so the athlete took him leftovers from the athletic meals.
No doubt, the second young man wanted to be a college graduate very badly. He wanted to be there badly enough that he would go without food if he had to get an education. Upward Bound's positive effects show in this story, too. One student learned to do what he had to do make it; another that he had a responsibility to help others.
JDCC's Upward Bound staff attended a meeting last Friday at the University of Montevallo in which they learned more about the president's FY 05-06 budget.
Supposedly, the president wants to shift funding from Upward Bound to his No Child Left Behind Program.
It seems that Upward Bound is already working to prevent students from being left behind. Let's not ruin a good thing.
Michele Gerlach is the publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 25.867.4876.