Three Catoosa County, Ga., eighth-graders earned $10,000 scholarships Wednesday afternoon.
Victoria Corbishley and Trinity Street, both of Ringgold Middle School, and Christian Nichols, of Heritage Middle School, received the REACH Georgia scholarship during pep rallies. Funded through a foundation and local private business owners, the program gives the three students each $10,000 to go to college or a trade school in the state.
If they attend a public college, the school will match the scholarship, boosting the funds to $20,000. Some schools will "double match" the reward, giving the students $30,000.
To be eligible, the eighth-graders have to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and have shown academic promise. Through high school, they need to maintain a 2.5 GPA and stay alcohol- and drug-free. They also will meet eight times a semester with a designated mentor, as well as an academic coach at the school who will make sure they are still on track.
In winning the scholarship, Corbishley, Street and Nichols join Lakeview Middle School's Landon Faulk and Trula Johnson, who earned the award Monday.
Jennifer Corbishley, the mother of 13-year-old Victoria Corbishley, said the scholarship will change her daughter's life. Victoria likes to play "Minecraft" and "Call of Duty" on the Xbox 360. She also likes to draw and is a member of the art club at her school, painting the windows of some local businesses around the holidays.
Her father, Steven Corbishley, died of a heart attack on Aug. 25 two years ago. Victoria became quiet, Jennifer Corbishley said, so much so that she didn't even want people to mention her dad in her presence. She feared her mother would die, too. Meanwhile, the bank foreclosed on their house on Old Salem Church Road and repossessed their Nissan Juke.
Jennifer Corbishley, who had not worked in about 14 years, got a job at a MAPCO in Ringgold, and she and her daughter moved into an apartment. Victoria has begun to come out of her shell, her mother said, after the school system offered counseling last year for students who lost their parents.
Jennifer Corbishley said her daughter will continue to feel better, slowly. And every bit of good news is a plus.
"Her dad was her world," she said. "... At that age, at 12, that's a tough thing for a daughter. I know he would be really proud right now."
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.