Elmore Bolling Initiative preps students for scholarships

Published 10:42 am Thursday, March 23, 2023

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Submitted by Josephine Bolling McCall

Two seniors at The Calhoun High completed The Elmore Bolling Initiative’s (TEBI) ACT preparation course and received scholarship awards from Alabama colleges.

Ladarrien McCall and Jamarrian Wilson took the course in their junior year. With instruction focusing on English and math, the course aims to improve students’ ACT scores which colleges review when considering applicants for admission or scholarships.

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Both McCall and Wilson received scholarships from Alabama A&M University. In addition, Wilson received scholarship offers from Tuskegee University. Students must have an ACT score of 23 or above plus a high school grade point average of 3.25 or above to qualify for the Alabama A&M merit scholarship. 

In Lowndes County, students’ average score on the ACT is 16. In wealthy American counties, where parents can afford tutoring and test prep courses for their students, the average ACT score is 23. 

TEBI makes the ACT test preparation course available to Lowndes County students free of charge. Participants learn strategies and test taking techniques in the course, helping them also excel on any standardized test in their high school and college career. 

The course is designed for a secondary mission – to contribute to moving schools off the Alabama State Department of Education’s failing “schools” list, which identifies the lowest 6% of public schools in the state based on standardized test scores. 

Calhoun Principal Nicholas Townsend credits rising ACT scores as one of the factors leading to the school’s successful removal from the failing list for the 2022-2023 school year. 

To encourage and support students to enhance their performance on the ACT test, the Miles Blackwell Foundation provides incentives to the top three scorers at The Calhoun School and Central High School. McCall and Wilson were the first and second highest scorers from their class, making them also winners of the Miles Blackwell Foundation ACT 2022 awards. 

The course was first offered by TEBI to 12 Lowndes County high school juniors in January 2021. Now, for the 2022-23 school year, 31 Lowndes County students are taking the course, plus TEBI expanded the offering to Montgomery County where another 37 students are enrolled.

The initiative carries on the legacy of Bolling, who was lynched in Lowndesboro in 1947. A successful businessman and philanthropist, Bolling could not read or write, but he placed a high value on education. 

“My father was dedicated to improving the lives of people in Lowndes County,” said Josephine McCall, daughter of Elmore Bolling and founder and president of the nonprofit organization that bears his name. (McCall is not related to Ladarrien McCall.)
“Many of the conditions he addressed in the 1930s and 40s persist. Today in the county, only 10% of high school students tested at or above the proficient level for reading, and 11% tested at or above that level for math. We offer the ACT test prep course so students can improve their scores and increase their chances of college admission. We are proud of all students who complete the course, and particularly of these two young men who earned recognition of their academic promise with scholarships from esteemed universities.”

For more information on The Elmore Bolling Initiative, contact board secretary Tracy Haughton at (415) 686-6346.