Editorial: Raising students’ hopes, expectations

  • Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 11:02 a.m.

Young people in Rowan County who want to beat expectations and go to college have a new organization in their corner, the Crosby Scholars Program.

For that, you can credit Bing Crosby’s love of golf and the vision of two local women.

A little background: The Crosby National Celebrity Golf Tournament, launched in the 1930s as Bing Crosby’s Clambake, raised money for worthy charities for six decades. For 18 of those years, it was played at the Bermuda Run Country Club in Davie County and raised more than $18 million for local and national charities. Organizers of the tournament started the Crosby Scholars Program in Forsyth County with the help of major corporate sponsors, and it has continued even after the golf tournament moved on.

Here’s the Crosby concept: Without a family history of attending college or the funds to pay tuition, many young people never consider themselves college material. The Crosby Scholars Program works with middle and high school students to overcome those obstacles, prepare for college and find the means to go. Since 1996, the program in Forsyth County has seen more than 5,000 Crosby Scholars graduate and awarded $3.7 million in scholarships.

Jennifer Canipe and Gwin Barr of Salisbury are championing this cause for Rowan-Salisbury. As strong advocates for education and young people, they had been working together to start a small Rowan program with similar goals. When they learned about the Crosby Scholars Program and its desire to expand, they decided to aim higher. They landed the first Crosby Scholars Program to go beyond Forsyth.

Rowan needs this. With lower average education and income levels than surrounding counties, Rowan can only leap forward with an extraordinary effort — something beyond what the tax-funded school system can do. Canipe and Barr believe it’s not just coincidence that the program became available at the same time they and others were searching for local solutions. “I believe this is how we are supposed to bring about systemic change in Rowan County,” Canipe says.

The real work starts in August, as the program begins signing up students to go beyond normal course work by being a Crosby Scholar — with academies to attend and workshops on everything from note-taking skills to anger management, leadership development and SAT prep.

In the meantime, the Crosby Scholars Program needs community support — receptiveness from educators, encouragement from families, support from school leaders and contributions from donors. Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina has formed an alliance with the program, based on their shared goals: removing barriers to employment and removing barriers to college. That underscores the importance of the mission: helping young people help themselves.

For more information or to offer support, email info@crosbyscholarsrowan.org or call the Rowan County Crosby Scholars office at 704-638-6235.

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