I was inspired to create college signing day back in 2014, while watching a Pisgah High senior sign a scholarship offer to play collegiate sports. Representatives from the college had arrived at our school, where they set up a fancy table, brought in our student and his family, and let him officially sign onto their team in front of their cameras. Our student was immensely proud, of course, but I felt a little guilty. I had a whiteboard in my classroom where, each year seniors signed their names under their college of choice once they had locked down their decision. At most, the only witnesses to their proud moments were me and a handful of other students. All I could think about while watching our athlete at his ceremony was that all our hard-working, scholarship-winning seniors deserved every bit as much pomp and circumstance for their academic achievements as for their athletic ones.
So, I got in touch with all the recruiters at the colleges where our seniors planned to attend, and we organized the state's first (academic) College Signing Day. Recruiters sent T-shirts, we set up tables with each college's teacher alumni as their representatives, and we invited parents and underclassmen to watch our class of 2015 "sign" with their colleges of choice. It was fantastic! The Clarion-Ledger came and did a wonderful story and photo gallery (here), and the students could not have been more proud of themselves.
This was the moment when the future became real for them and it a wonderful crowning experience for those who had worked so hard, often to little acclaim, to earn their way to academic scholarships. This year, for the class of 2016, I hope to make College Signing Day a much bigger event! Our National Honor Society underclassmen are helping me collect donations (anything a college student might need, from gift cards to backpacks to college-themed items like t-shirts) from any business or individual who would like to sponsor the event, even in the tiniest of ways. Every senior who is on track to graduate and who earns an academic scholarship of any kind will be invited to participate on May 6. Every newsperson and community leader who plans to attend and every donation that comes in is one more incentive for our seniors to work harder in school so that they can sign with pride in 2016!