Mentor program prepares Battle students for college

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COLUMBIA- For the first time ever, volunteers will mentor a select group of seniors at Battle High School on their path to college. The program, called Spartan Scholars, will work with students who, for the most part, plan to be first generation college students and some, even first generation high school graduates.

The mentors will help students write and edit essays for college and scholarship applications. Each student was selected based on GPA, work ethic, willingness to take tough classes and a need for financial aid to help them through higher education.

Fran Atkins, a co-founder of the program, said it is based on a similar program at Hickman High School called 'Talk Story, Write Story'.

"We want to get the kids to and through college debt free," Atkins said.

7 students were recommended for the program by a school counselor. Each of the students and mentors wrote an essay about themselves and were paired accordingly.

Students will meet with their mentors for a few hours each week and work on one essay at a time. They will also spend at least two hours each week writing outside of these sessions. They will complete a total of 10 essays that, with subtle changes, can fit many college and scholarship applications.

One student explained why he is excited about partaking in this program. Darius Hardnett wants to be the first member of his family to graduate college and give his future family opportunities that he didn't have.

"I'm actually getting the opportunity to make my family name different and change my life," Hardnett said.

He is wants to inspire others by showing them anybody can accomplish anything with hard work. Hardnett said he owes everything to his friends and his support system in the Battle faculty.

Battle has the largest population of free lunch students as well as the highest graduation rate in Columbia.