Chris Schulz Published

Wayne Co. High School Receives National Recognition For College Readiness

Wooden classroom desks in close up with no students.Adobe Stock

Spring Valley High School in Wayne County has been named a 2023 School of Excellence by ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning’s American College Application Campaign (ACAC). 

ACAC is a national effort to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. 

Spring Valley is one of 27 schools from across the country to be recognized for its College Application and Exploration Week and its work with West Virginia GEAR UP to remove many of the common obstacles in applying to college.

Debra Asbury, school counselor and GEARUP coordinator at Spring Valley, said that means providing every chance for students to learn about different careers.

“It’s our job…to provide them with opportunities to meet with admissions counselors, FAFSA coordinator, anything that’s getting them ready for post secondary, whether that is for a trade school, beauty school, or whether that’s to go to Harvard,” she said.

The application process can be confusing and daunting, and Asbury said exposing students to opportunities after graduation and helping them fill out forms is key to their future success.

“They need to break the cycle for some of these kids because they’re from areas where their parents didn’t graduate or they didn’t go on to school, and they’ve got to know their goals are achievable,” she said.

Lindsay Ellis is also a school counselor and GEARUP coordinator at Spring Valley. She said the recognition was an honor, especially after doing the same work for several years.

“These are things that we’ve always done as school counselors, but it really means a lot to get recognized for that,” she said. “I feel that all school counselors, especially the ones that we come in contact with, everybody is deserving.“

Asbury and Ellis believe that Spring Valley stood out in part because of a FAFSA completion rate of 62.5 percent, the highest in recent school history, as well as a strong social media presence.

“Show the community, show parents what we’re doing,” Ellis said. “Keep everybody in the loop, which is very important.”

Both counselors recognize the importance of the school-wide investment, from administrators to students, that was needed to receive the ACAC’s attention.