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February 20, 2009
By Skyler Dillon
The University of Nevada, Reno is encouraging young students to stay focused on education by honoring the top 15 percent of eighth graders academically at select middle schools throughout Nevada this spring. The “Silver Scholars” program, which features an opening awards ceremony on campus Feb. 21, both congratulates students on having top grade-point averages at their schools and coaches them about preparing for college throughout the next four years of their educational careers.
University’s Alumni Association founded the program in 1995 for high school juniors. Five years ago, the Office for Prospective Students began leading a new focus for the program to target middle schoolers.
“Our office already has a lot of contact with juniors,” explained Jody Dansie, the University’s admissions and recruitment coordinator. “We wanted to start a relationship with students earlier, when information about college and admissions can make more of a difference.”
In all, students from 41 schools will receive Silver Scholar honors for their academic achievement. Awardees from 14 schools will participate in ceremonies on the Nevada campus. Chris Conte, an assistant professor in the University’s counseling and educational psychology department will speak at the ceremonies. Campus staff will travel to the remaining schools throughout the spring to honor students on their own campuses.
“The ceremonies are partly about presenting awards and partly about education,” Dansie said. “We present them with a certificate signed by President (Milton) Glick, and then parents and students are split up to discuss different aspects of college admissions.”
Students meet with University alumni and Nevada student ambassadors during the educational portion of the ceremony. As they learn about preparing for college life on the Reno campus and taking the required high school courses, Silver Scholars also hear about the importance of getting involved at their schools through volunteering, student body leadership or other extracurricular activities.
Parents participate in their own question-and-answer sessions with University staff about application processes and college financing. Dansie said the most important point to get across to students and their families is the long-term benefit that college can provide.
“College graduates will make, on average, a million dollars more over their lifetimes than someone with a GED (General Educational Development test),” she said. “And who couldn’t use a million dollars?”
Staff members in the Office for Prospective Students are hoping that most Silver Scholars will choose to reap those benefits at the University of Nevada, Reno. Both as an effort to keep students on track and to recruit them to the University, scholars will receive letters each year throughout high school reminding them what classes they should be taking and what they can do to improve their college prospects.
“We want to grow the program to include every school in the state and to allow every school to come to the University for the ceremony,” Dansie said. “Hopefully, we’ll see many of those students at Nevada once they graduate.”
Ceremonies at the University will take place in the Joe Crowley Student Union. The scheduled dates and times are as follows:
Silver Scholars at the following northern Nevada schools will receive awards on their campuses: Billinghurst, Elko, Spring Creek, Pershing County, Winnemucca, Carson Valley, Wells, White Pine, and Carlin middle schools.
To learn more about the Silver Scholars program, contact Jody Dansie at email@example.com.