By Ken Steadman
Kids on the Rise (KOTR) held their first student recognition luncheon recently to honor all of the students in the KOTR program. In addition, two scholarship awards were past out to students who have completed high school and been a part of the KOTR program for at least four years. The luncheon was held at the Art Circle Public Library through a grant from Volunteer Energy Cooperative’s VECustomers Share program. KOTR gratefully acknowledges VEC’S warm support.
There are currently 60 Cumberland County students actively enrolled in the mentee program under the guidance of 60 mentors. This is what the KOTR program is all about. Mentoring is a one-on-one relationship between an adult and a child in need.
Teachers refer students to the KOTR program. Often, the student is considered at-risk because they are performing below their potential. KOTR matches community volunteers with a student to form a mentee/mentor team. The team meets on a regular basis either at or away from school and at special activities planned by KOTR. These meetings are designed to help build a level of trust between the adult and student to enhance learning and life skills.
Kids on the Rise developed a scholarship program several years ago through the encouragement of Gene Skipworth. Gene was serving as executive director at the time and felt a program was needed to assist graduating high school seniors to prepare for college. Deanna Sola became the first senior to qualify last year.
KOTR President Josh Stone commented, “We couldn’t be happier with our very first scholarship recipient if we designed her ourselves. We are very proud to name her number one and wish her much success in meeting her future goals.”
Sola graduated last year from Cumberland County High School. She enrolled at Tennessee Technological University to major in civil engineering. She made the Dean’s List her first semester and was given another $750 scholarship for the 2013-’14 school year.
Ruth MacAndrew was Sola’s mentor for 12 and a half years. Ruth stated, “The relationship has continued all this year and I know it will carry on for many more years. I am extremely proud of her college achievements and the future she is building for herself”.
Alishia Hill is the second senior to be honored with a $750 scholarship. She will graduate from Stone Memorial High School this year where she was recently honored as Student of the Month. She has enrolled at Roane State Community College and will ultimately pursue a degree in nutrition science.
Hill has been a mentee in the KOTR Program for 12 years with the same mentor. Glenna Bittle has filled that volunteer position with much love and self-satisfaction. She and husband Jack consider Hill a member of the family and know the relationship will continue.
The final luncheon speaker was Kristin Coggin who took time from her busy schedule at UT-Knoxville to share encouragement to all of those in attendance. Coggin is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a degree in psychology. She made the SEC Honor Roll all four years as a member of the Lady Vols Rowing Team. She works with the Vols Sports Nutrition Program and coaches the Oak Ridge Rowing Team. She is currently working toward a degree in nutrition with a goal of becoming a sports dietitian. She spoke about the journey ahead for the young students in the audience.
Kids on the Rise also provide storybook reading to grades K-8 on a weekly basis. Reading aloud conditions a child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure and builds their vocabulary.
You are encouraged to learn more about the KOTR program and volunteer a little of your time to help some child in need. Please call Executive Director Donna King at 459-2388 or e-mail her at email@example.com