DHS scholarship monies soar

Published 3:09 pm Friday, March 16, 2012

As graduation day gets closer for the Demopolis High School Class of 2012, all signs point to another banner year for in terms of scholarship dollars earned.

DHS graduating classes over the last six years have seen a tremendous increase in scholarship funds earned, with the Class of 2011 topping the list at $1,691,096.

Those funds were divided over a graduating class of 154 students. Their 2010 predecessors saw 159 students walk away from DHS with a diploma and a collective total of $1,260,148. In 2009, 153 graduates earned $1,191,532.

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The 2008 class of 143 graduates earned only $816,570. That number was a marked increase over the 2007 class of 117 graduates which earned $594,000. The lowest total over the last six years came from the Class of 2006, which saw 111 graduates tally $370,000 in scholarship funds.

According to Demopolis HIgh School principal Leon Clark, the consistent increase in scholarship dollars is the result of a greater emphasis placed on helping students earn such funds.

“Just a greater emphasis on it for our students to realize the opportunities are there,” Clark said. “We also have colleges that visit us on a regular basis. We have college and career days. They are seeing we do have quality students at Demopolis High School.”

“I think it is probably a combination of things,” Debbie Nichols, DHS guidance counselor, said of the factors that have contributed to the increase. “Part of it is a bigger concentrated effort on the part of our teachers in pushing the students on the ACT. A lot of it is pushing students toward being eligible for a lot of these scholarships.”

That concentrated effort begins the first day a student enters Demopolis High School and amplifies over the course of their four-year tenures at the institution.

“We start in the ninth grade from the very first meetings we have with our students,” Clark said. “It does not happen in one your. It is four years of development, constant emphasis. Once that emphasis begins in the ninth grade, it is intensified every year.”

Aside from reminding the students to keep their grade point averages high and take the ACT multiple times in an effort to elevate scores to maximum levels, DHS administration has also made a concerted effort to promote scholarship opportunities through extracurricular activities, the arts and athletics.

“There has been a greater emphasis on the students about their grades and ACT scores,” Clark said. “There has also been a greater emphasis on putting our students’ talents out there, whether it be academically, athletics, acting, band or whatever it may be.”

As students approach the end of their junior year, they begin to learn increasingly about scholarship opportunities and are encouraged to apply for colleges early in order to expand their options.

“We advertise a lot. We put it out there. We talk about it,” she said of the effort to inundate students with knowledge of scholarship opportunities. “Most of it is advertisement and then getting them to go ahead and apply for colleges early.”