CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A coalition of guidance counselors from Bradley County's three high schools staged a daylong college fair for their seniors and juniors Wednesday at Lee University.
An estimated 1,000 to 1,200 students were bused to the fair throughout the day from Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley high schools, event organizers said. Representatives of nearly 60 universities, trade schools and the military attended.
"We are all here because high school is only a stepping stone," said Becky Guthrie, school counselor at Cleveland High School.
The joint venture among the three schools came about as a way to maximize impact, according to Guthrie, who said getting the students together on a "beautiful college campus" was key to energizing interest.
Guthrie praised Lee University for hosting the event and handling the technical details.
Phil Cook, vice president of enrollment at Lee, said school personnel were pleased to help, but he was quick to give credit for the fair's success to the counselors who organized it.
Students exploring their post-high school options had plenty from which to choose.
"There's a lot of schools here I would have never thought about going to," said Amanda Atkins, a senior at Bradley Central High School who wants to pursue pre-veterinary studies.
Angela Ramirez and Abigail Rhodes, both seniors at Cleveland High School, said they wanted to go into dental hygiene and nursing, respectively. Ramirez said she is considering Hiwassee College, and Rhodes said she is considering Tennessee Wesleyan College.
"I have an interest in potential colleges and wanted to start [exploring] early," said Rachel Sheffey, a junior at Walker Valley.
While many of the visiting recruiters came from universities and colleges within 200 miles of Cleveland, some came from farther away.
Gemini Wadley, assistant director for diversity recruitment initiatives for Columbia College of Chicago and a Chattanooga native, said he makes the trip to ensure that students know there are competitive options for artistic studies beyond local schools.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.