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Close the Deal Kicks Off with State, Local Leaders at Holmes High School

Kentucky, Kenton County, and Covington leaders joined officials from Covington Independent Public Schools to launch a state program challenging Holmes High School seniors to pursue additional education after they graduate.

"Close the Deal", a program launched by former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson in Kentucky's largest city is a now a statewide effort with Abramson, now lieutenant governor, leading the charge.

“If Kentucky is to compete for twenty-first century jobs, we must have a highly trained, skilled, educated workforce, and Close the Deal plays a critical role in achieving this goal,” Abramson said.

Close the Deal aims to create a college-going culture in selective high schools for students who aren’t yet considering higher education. The statewide program, in its second year, supports high school counselors and engages the business and postsecondary communities in helping these students attain further education beyond high school. 

Abramson said that like him, many Holmes students will be first generation college-goers.

At Friday’s Close Deal launch, which began with a performance of the National Anthem by a member of the Holmes band and a welcome from Covington Superintendent Alvin Garrison, seniors met with college representatives regarding how to apply for admission and financial aid, while local business leaders outlined the skills needed for current and future opportunities. They also enjoyed lunch from Chick-fil-A provided by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

The successful launch of Close the Deal at Holmes is due to the partnership between state and local officials, educators and business leaders who want seniors to pursue higher education, “whether through community college for a certificate or a two-year associate degree, or a traditional four-year university,” Abramson said.

While talking to the students gathered in the Holmes field house, Abramson removed his jacket and left the podium to get up close and personal with those he hopes will become college students next year.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday was also in attendance. He said that his son talked to him Friday morning about attending his ten year high school reunion and that got the commissioner thinking.

"When you come back are you going to b proud of what you did since leaving Holmes?," Holliday asked the students. "The key is, will you have a story of success or will your story be one of missed opportunities?"

"Today is about helping you realize your dreams."

“We are very fortunate and thankful to have been selected to participate in this program,” said Garrison, in his first year as CIPS superintendent. “Close the Deal brings about more college awareness and it will serve as a catalyst for providing many of our students with a path after graduating from Holmes. Close the Deal offers our students exposure to a variety of higher learning institutions. Through this process we are sure that they will find one that meets their post-secondary interests and needs.”

“Holmes High School is honored to be selected for this year’s Close the Deal initiative,” said Principal Dennis Maines. “Our goal is to ensure all seniors have a post-secondary plan to continue their education. We are excited to have the support from the Lt. Governor, Commissioner of Education and many others to help our students answer questions and receive the assistance they need to take the next step.”

“I recognize the correlation between education and being a productive member of our community and I encourage students at Holmes High School to further their education, whether it is vocational training or through a college degree,” said Kenton County Judge-Executive Steve Arlinghaus who was represented at the event by Deputy Judge-Executive Mark Kreimborg.

“Close the Deal is proving to be a positive change maker for students across Kentucky, especially students who thought postsecondary education, including college, was out of their reach,” said Covington Mayor Sherry Carran. “Lt. Gov. Abramson’s Close the Deal initiative is a very special opportunity for our Holmes High School seniors.”  

“We are pleased to be participating in this program,” said Steve Stevens, executive director Kenton County Chamber of Commerce. “We believe this initiative is vitally important because increasing the number of students who pursue a post-secondary education is critical to our local employers in this region. Higher levels of education and training are no longer optional. They are a necessity in order to land the jobs that are available in Northern Kentucky and to keep our region competitive.”

Faculty and staff at Holmes High School will continue to work with seniors throughout the school year, further educating them on the need for additional education upon graduation. Through Close the Deal, counselors will encourage students to apply to at least one college or university.

In taking Close the Deal statewide, Lt. Gov. Abramson formed a partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education to add the program to the department’s “Operation Preparation” initiative.

Operation Preparation combines the efforts of the Department of Education and the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet to discuss life after high school with students.

“Close the Deal complements Operation Preparation’s mission, which is to encourage partnerships between communities and their schools to ensure that students are ready for college and careers,” Holliday said. “Close the Deal provides students with the information and tools they will need to explore higher education options, raising their comfort levels and knowledge as they prepare for life after high school.”

Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News, with additional quotes provided through a news release

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