Group of students to take part in MLK festivities in Atlanta

UF tutors will chaperone the trip for 40 area students.

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 10:15 p.m.

Some underprivileged children in Gainesville never get the opportunity to leave the area, but 40 Alachua County middle and high school students will get that chance - and much more - starting today.

As part of the fifth annual Atlanta College Tour through the University of Florida College Reach-Out Program, the students - from Gainesville, Newberry and Alachua - will take part in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Atlanta on Monday.

The students will visit several Atlanta universities, including Morehouse and Spelman colleges, and will take in several historical sites, including Dr. King's birth house and tomb.

The trip, which will be chaperoned by CROP tutors who are also UF students, begins today and continues through Monday.

With a staff of eight people, Bobby Welch, CROP director and doctoral student, provides tutoring and counseling for about 200 students in Gainesville.

"This trip is very cultural and marked with history," Welch said. "More students attend each year and we always try to make the trip better than the previous years."

However, due to budget cuts, the numbers of participants are limited. The fee for the program is $235 per student. Throughout the year, the CROP program used different methods to raise money to help reduce some of the costs.

"We used gas raffles, holiday baskets and scratch-offs to raise funds," Welch said. "Kids talk and serve as the mouthpiece of the organization and they truly make a difference."

Alexandria Harvey, 25, serves as one of the tutors working in the CROP program this year. She works with 12 to 15 students in the areas of journal writing, SAT prep and FCAT prep.

Harvey has participated in CROP since 2007.

"It truly gives students the chance to be a college student," she said. "The program provides so many opportunities."

Despite budget cuts, Welch said he looks forward to a successful trip and working with young students.

"The tour may also be the first tangible knowledge and experience many of our students gain about colleges, universities and most importantly, themselves," he said.

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