by Kate Evans
Paw Paw High School was one of 45 high schools in West Virginia that was honored for its phenomenal efforts to help provide students and families with information about higher education opportunities after graduation and to aid them in planning for college.
Paw Paw Schools elementary and high school counselor Dr. Tina Boswell-Stickley was recognized along with principals, other school counselors and staff from the 45 Champions of College Access and Success schools at an award ceremony in Charleston on October 11.
It was held during the West Virginia Board of Governors Summit that included representatives from state higher education institutions and business and community leaders.
Those attending had a chance to discuss challenges surrounding post-secondary education and college access and readiness in West Virginia and possible solutions, according to a press release from the state Higher Education Policy Commission.
The Champion awards are presented annually by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Technical Education to schools that do an outstanding job to help students plan for college. The Commission and Council provide information, training, support and event-planning help to high schools.
For state high schools to be considered a Champion of College Access and Success, they must hold a College Application and Exploration Week, have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Campaign and implement a College Decision Day Initiative. Each of these college milestone events help college-bound students prepare for and make the transition to college.
Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor for Higher Education, said the awards recognize schools and administrators that go above and beyond to help students get the necessary tools and information to be successful after high school. It’s vital that students have some form of post secondary education or training, she noted.
“The schools recognized today are exemplary in their efforts to create a college-going culture,” said Dr. Tucker.
Paw Paw Schools Principal Melinda Kasekamp said of Stickley’s Champion award, “We are so incredibly proud of Dr. Stickley’s efforts (who just earned her Ed. D degree this August) and her continued focus on helping our students to find funding sources for higher education that they might otherwise not have access to.”
“We, at Paw Paw Schools, will continue to help our students to strive for post-secondary education and to help them find the pathways necessary to travel those pathways of success. 38% of last year’s seniors went onto college and that was in part due to the efforts of Dr. Stickley,” Kasekamp added.
Other regional high schools that were recognized as Champions of College Access and Success were Hampshire High School, Hedgesville High School and Keyser High School.
In 2018, Governor Jim Justice set the goal of having 60% of the state’s workforce with a formal education credential beyond high school by the year 2030.
This campaign is known as “West Virginia’s Climb.”
It is a collaboration between the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Council for Community and Technical Education, the West Virginia Department of Education, Work Force West Virginia and the private sector.