HARTFORD, Ky.  — Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson today joined local officials, educators and the business community to launch a state program challenging Ohio County High School seniors to pursue additional education after they graduate.  

The "Close the Deal" initiative creates a college-going culture in select high schools for students who aren't yet considering higher education. The statewide program, now in its third year, supports high school counselors and engages the business and postsecondary communities in helping these students attain further education past high school.  

"If Kentucky is to compete for 21st century jobs, we must have a highly trained, skilled, educated workforce, and Close the Deal plays a critical role in achieving this goal," Lt. Gov. Abramson said. "Expanding Close the Deal at Ohio County High School will definitely benefit the senior class, helping them know their options after earning their diplomas."  

Lt. Gov. Abramson said, like him, many of Ohio County seniors will be first generation college-goers.

Close the Deal was created in Louisville when Lt. Gov. Abramson was mayor, after he realized that "many talented students who would earn a high school diploma had no idea what to do next."  

At today's Close the Deal launch, 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.

The successful launch of Close the Deal at Ohio County High School 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," Lt. Gov. Abramson said.

"This program will help our students understand that postsecondary opportunities are attainable no matter their individual circumstances," said Ohio County School District Superintendent Scott Lewis.

Ohio County High School Principal Greg Decker said, "We believe this program is important for our students since it will open multiple doors at the postsecondary level and will help them to see that education does not end with a high school diploma."

Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston said, "Everyone should get an education that will qualify them for the job they desire. A trade or skill education is still an education."

"This program could be a turning point for students in our area," said Hartford Mayor Charlotte Hendricks. "Many businesses in this area need skilled workers to continue operations. I am very thankful that Ohio County has been chosen to participate. Ohio County is a great community, and we want our kids to get the necessary educational opportunities to return to Ohio County."

Officials at Ohio County 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 was launched last year and 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," said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. "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."

Lt. Gov. Abramson kicked-off Close the Deal at Breathitt County High School Oct. 7. Additional 2014 Close the Deal events include:

  • Campbellsville Independent, Oct. 24; and
  • Livingston Central, Oct. 29

Last year, Gallatin County High School, Covington-Holmes High School, Greenup County High School and Logan County High School participated in Close the Deal. In 2012, Campbell County High School, Lawrence County High School and Bullitt Central High School participated.

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