The U.S. Department of Education’s 2014 Back-to-School Bus Tour hit the road Monday, and one Atlanta Public School was selected as the first stop of the tour. First Lady Michelle Obama visited Booker T. Washington High School Monday afternoon and encouraged students to “take charge of their futures” by continuing their education after high school.
According to the Associated Press, the tour was part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Education Initiative. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is also part of the U-S bus tour.
Mrs. Obama inspired the Atlanta students explaining what setting academic goals, like obtaining a college degree, can mean for their futures. She told the young people that they must “push themselves and not just take the easy classes.” Students also learned about federal efforts to increase access to higher education.
Booker T. Washington High students, parents and community members were very excited about the First Lady’s visit. Students were dressed in school colors and welcomed Mrs. Obama with a roaring peep rally in the school’s gymnasium. Michelle Obama told students that high school is “Just the beginning”…continual education will “set you up to achieve the dreams you have.”
There was also a college fair available for students to check out there higher education options.
The Reach Higher Initiative’s primary goal is to encourage “all American students to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.”
The initiative’s foundation points to the fact that, in today’s economy, a high school diploma just isn’t enough to make it. The First Lady is encouraging students to reach higher and called on everyone to “rally the country around the President’s “North Star” goal – that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”
The Reach High Initiative also offers additional support tools for students including:
- Exposing students to college and career opportunities
- Understanding financial aid eligibility that can make college affordability a reality
- Encouraging academic planning and summer learning opportunities
- Supporting high school counselors who can help more kids get into college
This is the fifth year for the Back-to-School Tour. Arne Duncan also visited Spelman College Monday morning where he hosted spirited roundtable discussion about the importance of teacher recruitment and the development of educators to lead the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) area of education.
Duncan was also scheduled travel to Carrollton for an event showcasing the Southwire Company’s 12 for Life program. Southwire is a leading manufacturer of wire and cable used in the transmission of electricity. The company is teaming up with the Carroll County School System to place at-risk students in jobs at Southwire. The goal is to allow these students to earn wages while working toward a diploma.
Following the education rally at Booker T. High School, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn for a voter registration rally in Atlanta.
The 2014 Back-to-School Bus Tour continues with stops in Alabama and Tennessee.