Thursday, 10 August, Logan County High School juniors and seniors took part in the school’s fifth annual Close the Deal event. The Close the Deal initiative is a statewide program managed by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) and is designed to create a college-going culture in high schools for students who are not necessarily considering higher education. The program’s creator, former Kentucky Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson, believed “if we truly want to prepare Kentucky’s next generation of leaders for the demands of the 21st century work force, we must continue to find ways to encourage and assist our high school students to seek additional education.” Logan County has witnessed positive gains concerning its college and career readiness index since its involvement in the Close the Deal initiative.
This year’s featured speaker, former LCHS instructor and retired US Army SGM Steven Malnar, provided the audience with his testimony, a story that began with losing his mother in an automobile accident and related how the tragic event affected his life’s decisions. Malnar stated, “You can move forward and grow up or stay back where you know it’s safe.” Losing his mother caused him to make some tough decisions; he chose to grow up. He later was faced with other major decisions like joining the Army and getting married, decisions that have helped to define the man he has become. He closed by challenging his audience to sharpen their focus on their own personal goals and to become the decision makers rather than allow their lack of decidedness and collected perchance events define what they are to become.
To aid in their pilgrimage of proactive decision making, the school provided students with representatives from 16 colleges/universities, 11 LCHS alumni currently enrolled in college, representatives from three branches of military service, ten community business leaders, and representatives from KHEAA—the state agency that administers the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES). Students were given opportunities to visit different booths set up around the school’s Auxiliary Gymnasium and meet in informal “table talk” discussions.
At the table discussions, business leaders addressed employability skills, the job market, interviewing tips, and communication skills. College representatives discussed choosing the right college, the importance of college visits, the application process, and scholarships. LCHS alumni shared with seniors things they wish they had done before entering college and aspects of college life--including academic expectations, social opportunities, using good judgement, and time management.
When asked about his thoughts concerning the event, Logan County High School senior Garrett Wilhelm stated that he valued the decision-making challenge and really appreciated the way people “went out of their way” to help him better understand many of the adventures and challenges his future plans might entail.