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      ACE Scholarship Program to help Tascosa cluster students

      There's a program in Amarillo that gives students from every background a chance to get full scholarships. It's now been expanded to include kids who will go to Tascosa High School.

      It was in 2009, that the Don and Sybil Harrington board of directors approved a $1.5 million gift. It was part of a $5 million fundraising campaign to extend the ACE Scholarship program to the Tascosa cluster. So, the program got started in Lee Bivins Elementary, Margaret Wills Elementary School and San Jacinto Elementary School, all considered high risk because of the high number of students on free and reduced lunches. Now, every student is being educated on the importance of college.

      "They don't realize how beneficial it is to them and so we try to address that and really help them understand how important a scholarship is really how important a college education is," said Carmen Ramos, ACE Scholarship Coordinator.

      The program targets the graduating class of 2016. 114 Tascosa freshman enrolled into the program last month. A big success according to the school, because the class size is 116 students.

      "It's a program designed to have students sign as freshman, once you sign up you take a pledge that you're going to meet the requirements of the program which are grade requirements, attendance requirements, and behavior requirements," said Clay Stribling, Amarillo Area Foundation President/CEO.

      The scholarship guarantees payment of tuition, fees, and books for up to 130 semester hours at Amarillo College or West Texas A&M University.

      In a time when student loan debt is hitting record highs, these full scholarships will mean a lot.

      "So many times students don't think as much about debt when they're entering college they think hey, this is money on the table and they don't think about how quickly that repayment is going to come to visit them after they get out of college," said Stribling.

      The ACE Scholarship Program started at Palo Duro High School in 1994 in partnership with Amarillo Independent School District, Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University. It was in 2002, the program expanded to include Caprock High School.