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MTSU, Blackman Collegiate Academy honor top scholars at 'Academic Signing Day'

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Blackman Collegiate Academy seniors (along with MTSU mascot Lightning in the center) planning to attend Middle Tennessee State University this fall are shown at the April 12 Academic Signing Day at Blackman High School. MTSU admissions staff presented the students with special certificates, an MTSU banner and a poster of the university's True Blue pledge. Pictured, from left, are Clay Sewell, Dominique Diallo, Josh Radnoti, Cameron Almonrode, Colton Tincher, Denice Paredes, Lightning, Tomy Chet, Evan Foulks, Cameron Loomis, Reece Rich, Michele Carden and Edward Thomason. Dominic Perratta was unable to attend. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

Signing Day wasn't just for athletes at Blackman High School this year, and Middle Tennessee State University was on hand to help the Murfreesboro school recognize graduating members of its Collegiate Academy who plan to become Blue Raiders this fall.

MTSU rolled out the True Blue carpet for about a dozen prospective students during BHS's inaugural Academic Signing Day for its Collegiate Academy graduates.

Held April 12 in the BHS cafeteria in conjunction with athletic scholarship signings that day, the new event allowed academy scholars to be recognized publicly for their academic excellence and resulting scholarships to their school of choice as family, friends, supporters and teachers looked on.

MTSU entered into a special partnership with the Blackman Collegiate Academy in 2015 in which juniors and seniors who meet eligibility standards can take up to six hours of university courses taught by MTSU instructors at Blackman at no cost. The credits will count on high school and college transcripts.

The recent signing day included 13 scholarship-eligible academy students heading to MTSU, the highest representation among the group of just over 60 academic honorees. Those prospective MTSU students are eligible for $112,000 in guaranteed scholarships once enrolled, according to Joey Clark, MTSU Admissions counselor for Rutherford, Sumner and Wilson counties.

Clark was on hand along with transfer coordinators Shayna Kyle and Zach Thompson, who pulled double duty as Blue Raider mascot Lightning, to staff a special table for MTSU signees. As BHS Assistant Principal Ken Reed called out each honoree, the students, joined by those parents able to attend, were photographed signing a special certificate and also received an MTSU banner and a True Blue pledge poster.

"They've worked just as hard as any athlete, just in the classroom," Clark said. "It's something for them to be excited about. ... It's neat to be a part of this process to promote these students, to encourage these students to continue their excitement about coming to MTSU."

BHS Principal Leisa Justus said BHS plans to hold the academic signing day annually.

"We just wanted to give them the celebration just like we do with our athletic signings," she said. "Today, we happen to have both going on at the same time, so there's a lot of energy. ... We really appreciate the support."

BHS senior Dominique Diallo, who plans to major in public relations and advertising at MTSU, said she became interested in coming to the university during a language competition she attended on campus a few years ago and became further impressed through the academy's dual-enrollment classes.

"I feel honored to be recognized in this way because I actually chose to focus on my academics," she said, "so being recognized for being in the Blackman Collegiate Academy and working hard, I really appreciate that."

Her parents Mohamed and Roma Diallo, were all smiles as she signed the certificate, with mom later echoing her daughter's feelings about the signing day as "a wonderful idea to showcase academics." She's thrilled Dominique plans to join the Blue Raider community this fall.

"I really like it; it's a really good school," she said, before another smile sprang forth: "And I kind of wanted her to go close to home ... we've moved a lot."

For more information about MTSU, visit www.mtsu.edu.

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