[Source: Carl Holcombe, Arizona Republic] — The Arizona Business Education Coalition hopes to bring a national program to Pinal County that will encourage youths to take rigorous high school classes to prepare them for college and the workplace. Public school and college officials learned about the Arizona Academic Scholars program during a luncheon Thursday at Central Arizona College. The program targets mid-level grade students who may believe college isn’t for them and is too expensive, but any student is eligible. “They’ll have at least one more door open that otherwise might be shut,” said Greg Wyman, superintendent of the Apache Junction Unified School District.
Program officials hope to combine it with CAC’s Promise for the Future. It rewards students who sign on with two years of free full-time tuition at CAC if they start high school and graduate with at least a 2.75 grade-point average. If students can complete a rigorous four-year program of science, math, history, English, and two years of a foreign language with at least a “C” grade in every class they can achieve Arizona Scholar status. That class load is designed to better prepare them for college. They will get a seal on their diplomas to show their more difficult coursework and more money for college if they qualify for Pell Grants. They can get an extra $750 as freshman and up to $4,000 as juniors and seniors if they major in a field related to science, math, technology or a language not commonly studied by students, said Mary Wolf, the project manager.