“College and career-ready” at Booker High School means that every senior who struts the stage in a purple cap and gown with gold tassel at graduation has a well-formulated plan for success. That roadmap is college entrance, attendance at a technical school or enlisting in the military. And administrators are preparing students early by implementing professional development programs and activities that require focus about career goals, decision-making and action.
This week, at an event dubbed a boot camp, volunteers and community mentors helped BHS seniors sign up to take SAT and ACT prep courses and the test. They also shared tips about how to write effective college essays and personal statements, earn community services hours and develop resumes in the College & Career Resource Room on the campus.
“I received assistance with my college essay that helped me sort out my thoughts,” said BHS senior Melissa Roberts. Another senior Jamal Benson completed the State College of Florida application and registered community service organizations. “Boot camp was really helpful,” he said.
BHS senior Melquel’l Bush researched colleges on a computer in the room. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in business. As a junior at Booker, he began the college search. “I joined programs that allowed me to go on college tours to get a feel for the campuses. I’m leaning toward Clark Atlanta University or St. Leo because it’s close to home,” Bush said.
“This is the first year we’ve organized monthly boot camps,” said BHS principal Dr. Rachel Shelley. “They are necessary because we have a large percentage of first generation students whose parents have not been exposed to this process. It’s our responsibility to help students complete the college application process,” Shelley added.
Booker’s enrollment has increased as a result of the focus on college preparation, according to Shelley. More sessions are scheduled on the fourth Tuesday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist students. Volunteers are needed.
Another campus event designed to steer students toward a profession was held recently. The fall College and Career Expo attracted college recruiters, alumni organizations and prospective employers. BHS students applied for internships and scholarship opportunities.
By 2020, the U. S. Department of Education under the Obama administration set a goal for the United States to lead the world in college completion. “We must raise expectations for our students, our schools and for ourselves—this must be a national priority,” President Obama wrote in “College and Career- Ready Standards and Assessments,” a manual published by the DOE.
Anyone interested in becoming a boot camp volunteer should call the guidance department at (941) 355-2967.