take stock in children celebrates mentoring

Students from Lee Middle School, Lockhart Middle School and Howard Middle School gathered at Valencia Community College for a ceremony celebrating their selection for the 2009-2010 Take Stock in Children program in Orange County.


Take Stock in Children is a statewide initiative that provides underserved students with a college scholarship and a mentor in the effort to help them stay in school, earn a high school diploma, graduate from college and enter the workforce.
Participating students are recruited in the seventh grade and continue on until they graduate high school. Students and parents must sign performance contracts agreeing to get good grades, exhibit positive behaviors and remain drug and crime free.
“These students are making a covenantal commitment – a promise to do their best and achieve at their highest potential,” said Valencia President Sanford Shugart. “We make the promise that if you make that commitment, college is here for you.”
The ceremony recognized 65 student participants, both new and returning, as well as their parents, mentors and community and corporate sponsors, including founding partner Florida Citrus Sports.
Chuck Beverly, incoming president of Florida Citrus Sports Foundation, was there to announce a $1 million donation to Take Stock in Children, an amount which will help put over 150 Orange County students through college.
Also attending the event was Nick Anderson from the Orlando Magic, who presented student Diamondnique Lucas with the 2008-2009 Top Student Award and an Orlando Magic basketball signed by every member of the team.
Other speakers included Lalita Booth, former homeless teen mother and Harvard student, Senator Gary Siplin, Cathy Pope from Orange County Public Schools and Lonnie Bell Jr., a Take Stock in Children mentor who works for Orange County Government.
Since 1995, Take Stock in Children has impacted the lives of more than 17,600 deserving students in the state of Florida, providing more than 9,000 high school graduates with Take Stock in Children scholarships for college.
Valencia Community College brought TSIC to Orange County in 2008 and is responsible for administering the program. As the program grows, it is continually in need of additional mentors, including for the upcoming 2009-2010 school year.
Mentors will meet with the student once a week during the school day and will serve as an encouraging force. A student with a mentor is 57 percent less likely to skip school and 46 percent less likely to start using drugs.
To volunteer as a mentor, provide a tax-deductible contribution or to obtain more information about Take Stock in Children of Orange County, please contact Elisha Gonzalez-Bonnewitz, director, Orange County Take Stock in Children program, at 407-582-3120 or ebonnewitz@valenciacc.edu.

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