Program targets ninth grade boys as college hopefuls

CLEVELAND (AP) - Fifteen-year-old Dontel Sheeley hopes to become the first male in his family to go to college, and has a chance to do so with all expenses paid.
He is among 34 freshman boys selected as Barbara Byrd-Bennett Scholars at Cleveland's Martin Luther King Jr. High School. They could qualify for guaranteed scholarships at Baldwin-Wallace College in suburban Berea if they maintain good grades, do extra assignments and stay at the college for several weeks each summer.
Principals, counselors and teachers recommended them based on their promise, not test scores or grades, said LaDonna Norris, the program's director. Norris also will work with them to get other scholarships if they decide not to attend B-W.
Dontel said many other youths he knows don't think of themselves as ever going to college.
"That's why I wanted to be in this program," he said.
The scholars program is named for Cleveland schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She put it together with B-W President Mark Collier because of their concerns about the low enrollment of black males in college.
Byrd-Bennett said by that the end of the summer, she will set up her own nonprofit organization to help with clothes, computers and books.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)