As part of a statewide initiative to raise public awareness on the issue of high school dropout prevention, Kentucky’s First Lady Jane Beshear is continuing her grassroots efforts to persuade students to stay in school and take a proactive approach to their education at a regional event Dec. 9 at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.
Jane Beshear will join elected officials, community leaders, and around 250 students from four high schools in Pulaski County to host the “STAARS Summit: A Community Approach,” where she will challenge today’s youth to continue their education and make plans for college or career training.
STAARS—a name chosen by local students in the multigenerational committee that helped organize the event—stands for Students Taking Action to Achieve Real Success.
Invited guest U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) is expected to make a special appearance at the Summit, presented by Forward in the Fifth and The Center for Rural Development.
The Summit, set to begin at 9 a.m. (EST), is the last of seven regional meetings held across the state in partnership with Graduate Kentucky, a state dropout-reduction initiative which emphasizes working at the local level to keep students in school.
“Education provides a passport to future successes,” Mrs. Beshear said, “not only for our children but also for the future of our state. Together, as a community, we must find ways to keep all of our students engaged and in school.”
Freshmen and sophomore students from Somerset, Pulaski County, and Southwestern high schools and Somerset Christian School have been invited to participate in the Summit and learn more about how they can prepare for college and plan for their future. Participants will explore different career interests, experience a College Reality session, and be inspired by keynote speaker Hasan Davis to overcome challenges and personal adversities to follow their dreams.
“Student success is a product of the entire community—educators, parents, community leaders, and the students themselves,” Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, said. “The Summit will be an environment in which discussions will occur, possibilities explored, and dreams developed.”
“The opportunities of the 21st Century are limitless if today’s students commit to being life-long learners,” Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, added. “Using their high school career as a stepping stone to a postsecondary degree or certificate will positively impact the quality of life and our economy.
“Without a high school diploma, one’s future is greatly compromised,” Tackett said.
The Summit is an extension of the work led by First Lady Jane Beshear and Graduate Kentucky to tackle the dropout problem in Kentucky. The effort was kicked off last fall in Frankfort at Graduate Kentucky: A Community Approach—the first of its kind comprehensive conversation to identify the reforms necessary to ensure student success and begin the process of lowering Kentucky’s dropout rate.
At the conclusion of the Summit, local members of the College Access Planning Committee will look at ways to create more opportunities to get and keep students excited about education and the possibilities it can hold for them.
“Reducing our dropout rate is as tied to educational achievement as it is to workforce development, economic development, and the ability of Kentucky to offer its citizens the quality of life they deserve,” Mrs. Beshear said.
“I invite and encourage all Kentuckians to participate in addressing this complex problem,” she stressed. “It will require thoughtful input from dedicated educators, policymakers, business leaders, community members, parents, and students.”
For more information about the “STAARS Summit: A Community Approach,” contact Jim Tackett at 606-677-6000 or email.