By William Croyle
Enquirer staff writer
NEWPORT - Lori Howe walked from table to table in the Newport High School gymnasium Friday morning talking to college recruiters.
Before this expofor the school's juniors and seniors, Lori hadn't given college a thought.
"I'm thinking about going now, maybe to be a nurse," the high school junior said. "I think I can do it."
This was Newport High's first college expo. Nearly 30 technical and four-year schools from Kentucky and Ohio were represented.
It was a major event for a school with little history of sending kids to college.
Donna Watts, director of the school's youth service center and coordinator of the event, said only 25 percent of Newport graduates attend college, and just 10 percent of them earn a college degree.
Despite those statistics, it didn't keep colleges away.
"If they're not exposed to it, they're not going to be interested in it," said Jennie Hall, admissions counselor from Campbellsville University. "Hopefully this will get them interested and show them the options they have."
Watts said the culture in the city is changing. Education, she said, never used to be a priority with many families. Youngsters were raised to go to school for a while, then go straight into the blue-collar work force.
But now the school is pushing college more than ever:
College recruiters have scheduled individual visits.
Forty-five students will tour Georgetown College, Berea College and Eastern Kentucky University next week.
Some minority students soon will visit the University of Kentucky.
A financial aid workshop is planned for February.
"For many of these kids, the financial end of it is the barrier," said guidance counselor Meg Flynn.
Alice Plummer, 17, said she's learned that getting financial aid simply is part of the college process.
"I have a lot of family who have gone to college and have told me not to be afraid of it - the schools will help us," Alice said.
Senior Luke McCullah filled out an information card for Western Kentucky University without knowing the cost.
"If I decide I want to go there, the cost ain't going to stop me, that's for sure," Luke said.
After talking with students, ITT Technical Institute representative Alden Byrd told them to "stay focused."
"They hear that from teachers and parents, but I think if they hear it from a third party, it might click with them," Byrd said.
The expo clicked with junior Chad Raleigh, who hadn't planned to go to college at all. He now may go to a technical school.
"They have me thinking about it," said Chad.
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