Spring break is usually the time when the realization hits most high school seniors that their K-12 school years are rapidly coming to a close.
Launch Manistee will once again be holding Decision Day activities at various high schools. Decision Day is when seniors announce their plans for the next year whether it will be enrolling at a college, a vocational school, or joining the workforce or the military. It also is a day prizes are given away through a series of drawings.
The 2017-18 school year has less than two months remaining before commencement ceremonies will be taking place throughout the county. The next two months will also be the time Launch Manistee brings to a conclusion all the programs that have been running throughout the past months to promote their cradle to career initiative.
During a student’s senior year, Launch Manistee sponsors programs like College Application Day, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion events and Decision Day. All of the programs are designed to make sure the high school seniors in the county are preparing for that next step in their lives.
Launch Manistee program director Mary Ann Behm pointed out that the senior year of high school more so than any other one goes by fast. She said that is why it is important for students and parents to remain focused on things that will keep their child prepared for the future.
“It seems like the 2017-18 school year just started, but here we are at the end of it,” said Behm. “Spring break is kind of the time that reminds everyone the year is just about over.”
Behm said the FAFSA registration is wrapping up now throughout the county, and seniors who completed it will soon be eligible to win some prizes in a raffle drawing.
“On April 16 they will be entered into a drawing to possibly win a mini refrigerator for college or parents will get a $50 gift card to Meijer,” said Behm.
Manistee Catholic Central had more than 90 percent of its senior class fill out the FAFSA paperwork to finish first in the state for that program. Bear Lake High School was also in the 50-64 percent category to be the second highest school in the county.
Behm said another thing that seniors should be aware of is there still are financial opportunities left for graduating seniors in the scholarship clearinghouse that Launch Manistee coordinates. Every year there are scholarships that don’t get claimed simply because no one applies for them.
“We keep working with students on completing those scholarship applications,” said Behm. “So this really is the time of the year where we pull everything together that we have been working on this year. We just want to remind students and parents when they return from spring break that there still is time to get things done.”
The Launch Manistee program director said preparation is already in the works for Decision Day celebrations that will be taking place at all the county schools in May. Decision Day is always the fun time when high school seniors throughout the county announce to the rest of the students and teachers their plans for the upcoming year.
“Each school does it a little different,” said Behm. “They will be doing things to recognize their seniors for whatever decision they made after their senior year. It can be if they are going on to college, joining the workforce, going to a trade school or into the military.”
Behm said what makes Decision Day such a special occasion is most school districts bring all of their students into that celebration. Making the underclassmen be a part of that occasion instills in those younger students the importance of thinking about the future, and more importantly, to be prepared for it.
“Bringing in the younger students to watch is what is neat about that day,” said Behm. “This year we have sponsorship from 4Front Credit Union as they are purchasing T-shirts for the seniors to wear on Decision Day. Most of the schools hold decision Day in May and they are primarily in the planning stages right now for what they are going to do.”
On that day students’ lockers proudly display where they are going and an assembly gives them the opportunity to tell everyone that same information.
One of the programs that is a natural lead into the activities Launch Manistee does in preparing students for the next step is the Manistee Commitment Scholarship Program. This program gives area students the opportunity to receive a tuition-free associate’s degree from West Shore Community College.
The program is financially supported by local residents Bill and Martha Paine and done in conjunction with Launch Manistee, Manistee County Community Foundation and West Shore Community College. Thirty-three eighth grade students are selected for the program each year.
Other partners in the program are Bear Lake, CASMAN Academy, Kaleva Norman Dickson (Brethren), Manistee Area Public, Manistee Catholic Central, Onekama Consolidated schools and the Manistee Intermediate School District, which recommend the students.
Over the next four years Manistee Commitment Scholarship Program director Hannah Rodriguez will be working with these students and their parents to see that they remain on the right path to earning that degree.
“We are about to name our third cohort of students in that program at the end of April,” said Behm. “We will be working with them and their families in May after that nomination process. So there is a lot we have going on at Launch Manistee until the end of the year.”
Article from Manistee News Advocate by Ken Grabowski – March 30th, 2018