Martinsville High School helping raise awareness about national campaign promoting college

High school participated in 'Better Make Room' campaign Friday

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

MARTINSVILLE - With graduation right around the corner, Martinsville High School seniors who will be going to college in the fall celebrated their decision Friday.

But the celebration was more than just an excuse to get out of class.

Dozens of Martinsville High School seniors gathered in the school's auditorium to be recognized for choosing to go to college.

They heard some final words of wisdom from Superintendent Dr. Zeb Talley.

"Go to school. Make your family proud. I know they're proud of you. I'm proud of you," said Talley.

Then, the names of the colleges the students will be attending were read aloud.

Afterward, the students were encouraged to decorate t-shirts to represent their college and take photos to post on social media using the hashtag "Better Make Room" and "Reach Higher."

Those photos will be shared by the more than 20 businesses and organizations partnering with the Better Make Room campaign started two years ago by then First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Reach Higher initiative.

"Even though she's not in office anymore, she's still very committed to college access. So, those are particularly her organizations that have been working to get kids into going to college," Martinsville High School college counselor Colin Williams explained.

The businesses and organizations partnering with the campaign will use the photos and other posts from Friday's event and other "Decision Day" events at high schools across the country to raise awareness about the campaign and promote its message.

Students say they're glad to have the opportunity to go to college and set a positive example.

"Very little of my family has graduated from college. They go for a year or two and then they'll just leave. But, I wanted to see if I can make it all the way through, which I know I can, I just have to put my mind to it," said Gerri White, who will attend Virginia Union University.

"(It) makes me more appreciative of the things I have and the opportunities I'm granted in life," said Kenya Hairston, who will attend UVA.

While they're not in college yet, they've already taken the first step towards achieving their goal.

That's what Friday's celebration was all about.

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