From senior project information to graduation expenses, Harlem High School seniors and their families were briefed Thursday night on what is expected of them this school year.
"You can't always rely on students to get information to their parents, and it's a chance for parents to ask questions," said Patty Niece, the senior class adviser and senior project coordinator.
This was the first time the school has held a senior orientation.
"If you don't know where you're going, you may end up somewhere else," Counselor Ed James told the audience. "We're interested in making sure you know where you're going."
The school's auditorium was packed with nearly 200 seniors - Harlem's largest senior class ever - and their parents.
"I am so lacking in real useful information," said Rosemary Neal, whose daughter Haley will graduate this year. "It really gave me a starting place. I didn't realize how much there was to keep up with. You know it's coming, but you're never really ready."
The SAT, ACT or Augusta Technical College's ASSET test are hurdles for those attending post-secondary institutions. But all seniors must pass all sections of the Georgia High School Graduation Test to graduate, Counselor Pat Wiggins said.
Senior Counselor Carla Shelton, who reviewed the graduation requirements for college prep and vocational students, urged those planning to attend college to apply soon and to research the requirements of each school. To graduate, for example, a college prep student only needs two years of the same foreign language, but some colleges require more.
"But Clemson, for example, requires three years of foreign language. We are just telling you the minimums," Ms. Shelton said. "You need to do some research on your own."
Representatives from Augusta State University and Augusta Technical College were present to review the admissions requirements for their schools. Job shadowing and youth apprenticeships programs were also discussed.
James also reviewed financial aid information, including the requirements of the HOPE scholarship or HOPE grant for those attending vocational schools. He said there is a myriad of grants available. Web sites such as fastweb.com can be a valuable resource in helping parents in their research.
Then there is the senior project. Last year was the first year Columbia County seniors were required to complete a senior project, and this year they will have to present their project before a community panel, Ms. Niece said.
"We've always done a senior project at Harlem High School, it just wasn't called that," she said. "But seniors have always had to do research papers. Now they are not literary based, students can pick their own topics."
The senior project counts as 25 percent of the second-semester grade in English.
In October, students will order graduation caps, gowns and invitations. The cap, gown, stole and tassel will cost about $45, Ms. Niece said.
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