College scholarships, traditionally available only to graduating high school students, will be awarded to District junior high students as part of a new program designed to encourage them to stay in school.
The 10 scholarships for $500 each are the first to be offered at the junior high school level in the metropolitan area, said Marilyn Brown, assistant superintendent for student services.
Former Redskin Larry Brown and school Superintendent Floretta McKenzie recently went to Shaw Junor High, in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, to announce the scholarships.
Brown and McKenzie warned the 900 students who heard the announcement about the temptations that can sidetrack their education.
"The choices of skipping school and taking it easy were always before me, but I was lucky -- I had something else to sustain me," said Brown, a former running back.
"I had motivation and good advice from family, teachers and friends," he said.
McKenzie added: "You have to work hard, and you have to have a two-letter word in your vocabulary and you have to use it often. That word is 'no.' "
The scholarships are sponsored by Larry Brown, Professional Products Inc. and Xerox Corp., and will be awarded in June to five boys and five girls in the eighth or ninth grades who have demonstrated academic achievement, athletic potential, financial need and leadership.
"We are not just looking for the honor roll students, but average students who show potential and need for scholarship opportunities," Marilyn Brown said.
"The students who really care about his or her education are the ones who will shine above the others," she added.