LEBANON — The traditional school setting wasn’t working for Corvallis High student Abrianna Lochner, so she transferred to Lebanon High School last year to take advantage of its early college program.
Now the 17-year-old has the option of taking another step along her path to college, with a chance at a three-year, $3,000 scholarship from Oregon State University.
Officials from OSU, the Lebanon Community School District and Linn-Benton Community College met Thursday at the Lebanon branch of the community college to sign a formal memorandum of understanding that establishes the scholarship program.
Lochner, who’s currently pursuing an associate degree with a medical science emphasis, said she was planning to attend OSU anyway, and the possibility of a scholarship just adds weight to the plan.
“I think the signing of this agreement really expands my options,” she said.
The formalized partnership adds another level to the Beyond LHS agreement established eight years ago between Lebanon High School and LBCC. Under that program, LHS students can take college classes and earn credits while still enrolled in high school. About 250 students are expected to take advantage of the opportunity this year.
Under the new agreement, OSU is committing to provide 10 scholarships of $3,000 a year, up to three years, to qualifying LHS students who earn both a diploma and an associate degree through this program.
The university hopes the students will choose to make the transfer, said OSU President Ed Ray, one of the speakers at Thursday’s signing.
“We want our share of that energy and talent, so we’re going to do our darnedest to convince you to come to Oregon State University,” he said.
But officials from all three institutes said the real, deeper goal is to help students set and achieve a plan for further education, wherever that might be. They want to make it clear the door doesn’t need to shut once an associate degree is achieved, and that students as young as middle school can start setting a course for the future.
Brothers Tim and Jason Maddox of Lebanon said they appreciate the extra opportunity. Both take classes at Linn-Benton’s main campus in Albany in the morning and at LHS in the afternoon, and are committed to earning associate degrees either by or shortly after completing their senior years.
Tim, who turns 18 next week, isn’t sure where he’ll complete his degree in mechanical engineering but said the OSU offer may swing the balance.
“Now, it’s a little cheaper to go to OSU if I get the scholarship. It’s something more to look into,” he said.
OSU has a similar partnership with Jefferson High School in Portland. As for extending the offer to high schools in Albany, Sweet Home or other cities, Ray said, “We’ll see whether we can go to other communities and make things happen there.”