MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

January 25, 2013

Conversation leads to college prep class

Representative to serve second term in key post

FORT GIBSON —  A student’s conversation with a school official last fall led to a class to help students prepare for college.

“When you are a very involved student, you don’t have time to fill out scholarship applications,” said Fort Gibson senior Aspen Burroughs.

Aspen recalled discussing her concerns in November with Gayle Piester, FGHS senior scholarship liaison.

“She was enrolling for the second trimester and she came to my office and asked if we could have a scholarship application class. And it just so happened Mr. Sparks walked by,” Piester said, referring to FGHS Principal Gary Sparks.

A syllabus was available for the class, and there was an opening in the schedule, Piester said.

“It probably took a matter of 30 minutes and everything was settled,” she said.

The college preparation class, informally called the FAFSA class, is being offered during the school’s second trimester, which ends Feb. 22. The class attracted 28 students, all seniors.

During the class, held in a computer lab, Piester helps students apply for financial aid and seek scholarships. Students were given a syllabus at the start of the class and are graded on how much work they get done from the syllabus, Piester said.

The self-directed class has helped students set priorities on what to do.

Students first had to fill out their FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and present the form to the teacher. Students also had to submit scores from their ACT or SAT tests, any applications and acceptance letters from colleges and scholarships.

Speakers from colleges have visited the class, and students also have visited area colleges.

Aspen, who is seeking a Presidential Scholarship from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, said Piester helps her write her scholarship essay in the class. The scholarship is for $5,000 a year — a total of $20,000 over four years.

“If she can get this, basically her entire school is paid for,” Piester said.

Aspen said she plans to major in deaf education at USAO.

Senior Brittany Palmer said she’s applied to four or five places, but hopes to attend Northeastern State University.

Although the class is new this trimester, Sparks said school officials had been talking about offering the class for several years.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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