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Students Prepare Applications for Colleges

Jefferson County public school students are being encouraged to apply for college this week. Some schools are getting help from a federal grant; others are holding pep rallies and workshops. But many schools have already begun to promote college readiness.Senior Charles Morton said he remembers Shawnee High School just a few years before.“It was very chaotic there were seniors in classes with freshman, it was just real chaotic environment,” he said.Principal Dr. Keith Look reorganized the school and provided structure, said Morton. The school was also renamed the Academy at Shawnee.“It’s bringing everything together in an orderly manner and actually presenting students with the opportunity to learn and earn their education,” he said.Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed this College Application Week. It’s part of a new statewide effort funded in part by the federal College Access Challenge Grant. The grant is paying for 13 Kentucky schools to help students with the college application process. Southern and Western high schools in Jefferson County are among those receive grant funds. The schools are offering guest speakers and workshops throughout the week.But all schools are encouraged to help students with the application process and Morton has already noticed a difference over the past year in preparing students for life after graduation, he said.This week is one of several initiatives to help with college and career readiness, said principal Look.“There are constantly different sorts of activities and even professional development for students to help them think about their futures,” said Look. “You can even walk through my building and see banners hanging either from different colleges, or students that have already gotten accepted into school or things that really do make it a continuation as a regular part of our conversation," he said.The state’s new accountability measures should also help narrow student focus and provide them with a more consistent message for what’s important, said Look.“That alignment of having the ACT be part of the school’s accountability system and have real meaning for students gives us a chance to narrow our focus so that it's not necessarily doing more things but being able to put greater focus on those things we know to be important, streamlining.”The Academy at Shawnee has become more like a college environment over the past couple years, said Morton.“As you see now, compared to then, everybody wants to apply, everybody wants to further themselves in some career field,” he said.It may be too early to determine how revised state assessments will affect college and career readiness, but some schools have already begun preparing students.