As Terry Russell, assistant principal at Block High School in Jonesville, Louisiana watched his 32 seniors walk across the stage at graduation, he turned to staff with the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance and said “We couldn’t have done it without you all.”
Earlier this year, when LOSFA staff saw reports about Block High School – a school where students were protesting a lack of certified teachers and feeling that they were not being prepared for life beyond the high school classroom – they immediately offered help.
At that time, Michael Norris, a senior at Block High said he felt embarrassed to be a student at the school.
“But now people are listening and we’re getting what we need,” Norris said.
LOSFA hosted seminars at Block High School on TOPS (Louisiana's merit-based scholarship) and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), in order to help students understand the resources available to help pay for college, whether they choose a 2-year or 4-year institution.
“Y’all [LOSFA] helped me get my ACT score up, apply myself more, helped me to apply to college…I just appreciate y’all,” said Corey Jones, another senior student.
Unlock My Future
website, outreach staff also worked with students on college access and career planning. This match and fit tool helps identify what is best for each students' individual needs by answering five key questions:
- What am I good at? (Skill/Interest/Aptitude Match)
- Can I get in? (Academic Match)
- Can I afford it? (Cost of Choice Match)
- Who gets me? (Social/Emotional Match)
- Will I stay or will I go? (Retention Match)
“Seeing you all here on campus a lot, I saw a lot more drive in some of the students,” said Christopher Cather, a math teacher at the school. “I believe you guys being here on campus, them seeing you frequently, helping them – it really made a difference.”
Upon seeing improvements in students at Block High, Ronnie Lofton, the interim school superintendent in Catahoula Parish, requested that LOSFA also provide college access services to Sicily Island High School.
“I just want to thank LOSFA for helping the students here,” said Lofton. “I think you all have helped make this year a great success.”
“LOSFA helped me finish my FAFSA and look in to more college choices than I had originally considered,” said Derrick Schrock, who graduated from Sicily Island High and has an academic scholarship to the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Another Sicily Island student said she was unsure about what she wanted to do after high school, but with LOSFA’s help, she decided Delta Community College was the right choice for her.
Several students say it was refreshing to see people who were not connected with the school be so engaged, and eager to see them succeed.
“You [LOSFA] helped me apply for colleges, realize what my goals are and I am thankful for that,” said the Salutatorian at Sicily Island High, Alaina Archer. She was accepted to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, on an academic scholarship, as well as Delta Community College.
The interim superintendent says he looks forward to LOSFA helping even more students next year.