The city’s popular Bunker Hill Community College scholarship program could soon expand to allow some students who may struggle in traditional learning environments to take part.
District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero requested more information from the school department and the city about the scholarship program and the requirements for students to take part.
Recupero’s main goal has been to open up the scholarships, which are funded by the city, to more students who may struggle with their grades and are potential late bloomers when it comes to education.
Currently, Chelsea High School graduates can qualify for the scholarships if they take three Bunker Hill courses during high school and earn at least a C average in those classes. The scholarships cover all tuition and fees not covered by federal aid.
“To date, $658,000 has been paid on behalf of the students,” stated Superintendent of Schools Dr. Almi Abeyta. “Students, their families, and the community at large are very grateful for this investment in our students’ futures.”
In the class of 2022, Abeyta said 35 students are eligible for the Bunker Hill program, and about $150,000 is needed to fully fund the program for its fifth year.
“This additional year of funding for students is crucial, as most certificates and degrees require two years to complete,” said Abeyta.
Recupero praised the program, but asked what happens when students don’t get the grades necessary to take part, but still might benefit from a community college education.
“Anybody who graduates from Chelsea High School should be able to go, even though you have strict requirements,” said Recupero. “I understand that you can turn around and say you don’t want to invest in someone who doesn’t want to invest in themselves, but things change in life. If one of my children was not the greatest of students, I would still like him to have the opportunity.”
Abeyta said Recupero made a good point about people developing and maturing at different points in their lives.
“I do hear what you are saying, and I do believe that kids oftentimes mature later,” said Abeyta. “I think it’s something we need to think about and maybe it’s not this scholarship, maybe we create something else for students who want to go to Bunker Hill Community College in this city.”
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said that from the city’s perspective, there were no objections to the school department to relax standards to allow students who have not met all the standards of the Bunker Hill program to apply for scholarships.
“We’ve created these scholarships in order to get Chelsea High graduates to get an Associate’s degree without a cost,” said Ambrosino. “We left it up to the school department, and in fairness to Dr. Abeyta, she wasn’t the one who crafted the original eligibility requirements. The city would not have objections, our goal is to encourage Chelsea High graduates to get degrees.”
Ambrosino said he would have no issue with the city setting aside a small portion of money to allow students who do not meet the current requirements to apply for a scholarship.
“I only want to say thank you for the job you do and the jobs you all do,” said Recupero. “The children who might not qualify, if you decide to add something for them, it will be a great thing to at least try to make it equal for all.”