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By SEAN KINNEY
Posted – Saturday, November 17, 2012 10:20 AM EST
By SEAN KINNEY
Anthony Garcia-Montero (center), a 10th-grade Key West High School student, signs a contract joining the Take Stock in Children program, which culminates in a full college scholarship if he abides by the contract’s terms. The Monroe County School District has a new group of students that could be headed to full college scholarships in five years. This week, 58 seventh-graders signed their Take Stock in Children contracts to stay crime- and drug-free, maintain good grades and get involved in community service. They also meet once a week with a mentor. If successful, they are rewarded with a scholarship good for two years at one of Florida’s 28 community colleges, followed by two years at one of 11 state colleges or universities. The educations are financed through public and private money invested in the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. John Padget, a member of the state Board of Education and a former Keys schools superintendent, has taken Monroe County’s lead in Take Stock through the Monroe County Education Foundation. “We always talk about the end game,” Padget told students at a Thursday signing ceremony at Key West High. “A bachelor’s degree from a college or university, that’s the goal. It’s not a dream, it’s a plan.” Take Stock Program Coordinator Leslie Holmes said that in Monroe, there are 248 students now going through the program, with a total of 621 served countywide in the program’s 13-year history. Statewide, there are 6,656 active Take Stock students. Programs offered to Take Stock participants include are Leadership, Excellence, Accelerating Potential, hosted on the University of California-Los Angeles campus and giving students a peek at college life; and the Experiment in International Living, which sends students around the globe to stay with host families and become immersed in a foreign culture. The program is driven by volunteer mentors who agree to spend an hour each week assisting students.