Graduates of Hamilton County Schools triple the amount of scholarship money for 2019
Posted on 06/06/2019
Gabe Armstrong addressing classmates at Soddy Daisy HighReaching graduation day is an important milestone for high school teens, but it is also a starting point for the rest of their lives. More 2019 graduates of Hamilton County Schools will have a head start on their next step in college as the class received approximately $64 million more in scholarship offers than last year. The Class of 2019 had over $95 million in scholarship offers from colleges and universities, which is up from $31 million last year.

Signal Mountain High graduates received over $11 million in scholarship offers this year, Soddy-Daisy High graduates more than $9 million, East Hamilton High and The Howard School each totaled more than $8 million, and East Ridge High and Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences each had more than $6 million in scholarship offers.

Gabe Armstrong, a graduate of Soddy Daisy High, has a full-ride scholarship to Georgia Tech this fall. Armstrong attended Hamilton County Schools his entire school career and is a big proponent of public schools providing everything a young person needs to succeed. “Gabe is like a professor as he often wears a suit to school – even a cane and top hat on occasion,” said Kelly Martin, college and career advisor at Soddy Daisy High. “He marches to his own beat.”

Armstrong and fellow graduate Jake DiChiacchio made a presentation to the Soddy Daisy High administration about the importance of Advanced Placement (AP), dual enrollment, and International Baccalaureate classes for high school students during their senior year. DiChiacchio earned a full-ride scholarship to Brown University and was a National Merit Finalist for 2019.

“These two made a presentation to school administration complete with PowerPoint about student access to these courses just because I asked Gabe what he would change or recommend for the future,” Martin said. “I thought this was really impressive as neither Gabe or Jake would benefit, but both put a lot of work into the presentation just to make things better for future students.”

Additional opportunities to take advanced courses (AP) and earn college credit while in high school in dual enrollment classes are part of the budget plan for next school year now being considered by the Hamilton County Commission. The budget includes approximately $10 million in additional investment to provide more access to advanced courses, dual enrollment, improved technology, college and career advisors, digital fabrication labs, improved access to STEM, innovative learning programs, and industry certifications for students. The action area Future Ready Students in the Future Ready 2023 five-year action plan includes how the district will address better preparing graduates for success after high school. There is also a Focus Five performance target in the plan that includes additional AP and dual enrollment opportunities. The increased opportunity for teens to take advanced courses will allow more future graduates to walk across the stage with five or more advanced courses, dual enrollment classes, or an industry certification.

“Preparing graduates for success after high school is vital for the future of graduates, their families, and our community, and why it is important to improve access to advanced courses across the district,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “These students have put in the hard work in the classroom, on the playing field or in artistic development to make scholarships possible, and our teachers, advisers, and counselors help them select course work that is challenging and gives them a better opportunity to qualify for these scholarship opportunities.”

Hamilton County Schools increased the number of students enrolling in AP, dual enrollment and International Baccalaureate classes during the 2018-2019 school year. The total for the year was 2,867, which is 916 more students than the 1,951 enrolled in a class during the 2017-2018 school year.

Jake DiChiacchio

Photo (Top) Gabe Armstrong, speaks to fellow students at Soddy Daisy High
Photo (Bottom) Jake DiChiacchio