Gov. Polis visits Harrison High School to discuss free college program

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Governor Jared Polis visited Harrison High School Tuesday.

It was an opportunity for Polis to see innovative programs at the high school from AVID, career tech classes, and the Dakota Promise Scholarship.

“Hoping that when he starts making decisions, that he has in his mind what’s happening and what we’re doing here in public education,” said Peter Vargas, principal at Harrison High School.

Thanks to the Dakota Promise Foundation and Pikes Peak Community College, students who graduate from Harrison School District 2 will be able to attend PPCC for two years, free.

“A lot of families don’t know, if they fill out the FAFSA, if they’re low income, they might get it free anyway. But there’s also a gap if you’re middle income. So, Dakota Promise helps reach that, especially important for first-generation college-goers who, their parents haven’t gone to college, ‘how can I do it?'” Polis said.

To qualify, students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA.

“I wasn’t going to be able to go to college. I did have other scholarship offers for full-rides for me being in choir and in drama, but those got taken away last year because my grades got messed up, but I fixed them. And this gives me two free years, and I want to take those two years and be the first male graduate in my family. And I just want to make my mom proud after she passed away,” said Jarrett Morris, a senior at Harrison High School.

Polis says partnerships between high schools and community college can be a model for the state of Colorado, offering students opportunities to receive college credit and, in some cases, an associate’s degree – all while still in high school.

“This kind of partnership between the school district and Pikes Peak Community College can be done between other community college and school districts and we really need to scale this across the state,” Polis said.

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