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Secretary Michael Morgan of the State Department of Administration addressed more than 100 area middle-school students today in Reeve Memorial Union, 748 Algoma Blvd., in honor of Covenant Days.

Eighth graders from Bessie Allen Middle School in North Fond du Lac and Ripon Middle School attended a morning filled with events April 17 at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, including Secretary Morgan’s presentation, which touched upon the origin and purpose of the Wisconsin Covenant, a new program that guarantees a spot for students in Wisconsin’s private and public colleges if they meet certain criteria.

Secretary Morgan, along with Governor Jim Doyle and other state officials, are touring schools and colleges throughout the state in April to promote the program, which aims to supply the state’s future workforce with the skills it needs for Wisconsin to be economically successful.

“The Wisconsin Covenant encourages students to start thinking about the grades they need, the classes they need to take and the role they need to play in their community, starting on day one of high school,” Secretary Morgan said. “If they do their part, we’ll make sure students have a place in higher education and a financial aid package based on their families’ financial needs.”

To meet the covenant’s guidelines, students must graduate from a Wisconsin high school, maintaining at least a B grade-point average; take classes that will prepare them for college while in high school; demonstrate good citizenship by engaging in activities in their community, apply for state and federal financial aid in a timely manner, and do all that is necessary to gain admission to a University of Wisconsin System institution, Wisconsin Technical College or a Wisconsin private college or university.

The students in attendance were able to ask questions about the program and were invited to sign the covenant. More than 17,000 students from 72 counties joined the Wisconsin Covenant since Gov. Doyle introduced the program in 2007.

“Working with your parents, teachers and school counselors, you have an opportunity to set your own personal plan for how you will approach education and learning in the coming years,” Chancellor Richard H. Wells told the middle-school students. “When you tour the campus today, it is not too early to start thinking through what you want to see in the college campus that you will ultimately choose.”

UW Oshkosh graduate Erin McIlraith also spoke, sharing her own experiences of how her determination to succeed academically had opened up opportunities in her life and encouraging the visiting students to take advantage of the Wisconsin Covenant.

In addition to Secretary Morgan’s presentation, the Covenant Days activities included a welcome from Petra Roter, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, demonstrations presented by members of UW Oshkosh’s Science Outreach program and a tour of the campus.

For more information about the Wisconsin Covenant, visit www.wisconsincovenant.wi.gov.

Photos by Dylan Stolley

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