WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Families and educators recognized about 250 students for graduating and preparing for college in a special state program. The Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Program recognition banquet was held at the Jefferson Street Inn in Wausau.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers was part of the program, which he says tries to identify kids who may need a little extra guidance and preparation if they are the first members of their family to go to college. “A number of excellent and talented young people from the Wausau area that work with our staff, that they might be coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, lots of Hmong kids and others that are first-generation going to college, and we’re here celebrating them graduating.”
Evers says the WEOP program is statewide, but is highly successful in central Wisconsin. “It’s a tribute to this part of the state, I’ll tell you, to have this many kids to come from backgrounds that aren’t necessarily focussed on college, that they’ve got their parent’s support, school support, our support at the Department (of Public Instruction), and ninety some percent of them are graduating and almost all of them are going to college.”
The Superintendent says part of the program’s success is figuring out who would benefit from the program at an early age. “We identify the kids early. We try to catch them in 5th and 6th grade, in middle school grades, and really provide that support, get them ready for college, get them thinking about college, visiting colleges, making sure that they’re doing their homework, kind of adding value to the counseling staff and the teaching staff that exists here.”
Students received awards for success in the Early Identification Program, Talent Search, Upward Bound, and the GEAR UP programs. Evers also presented awards to three area educators for their college preparatory programs.