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ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl Joins President Obama on Visit to Appalachian Higher Education Network School

October 2011


MILLERS CREEK, NORTH CAROLINA, October 17, 2011—Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl joined President Barack Obama on his visit to West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, North Carolina, today. The president's visit was part of his American Jobs Act bus tour to discuss jobs and the economy.

West Wilkes High School participates in the Appalachian Higher Education (AHE) network, an ARC program focused on increasing the postsecondary-education participation rates of high-school graduates.

President Obama underscored the importance of education in boosting the competitiveness of the nation. "How are we going to compete when countries like Korea and Germany are hiring teachers and preparing their kids for the global economy and we're laying off teachers left and right? One North Carolina teacher said, 'We didn't cause the poor economy; if anything, we built the good part.' And he's absolutely right."

Gohl expressed appreciation that the president chose to make West Wilkes High School a stop on his tour: "West Wilkes stands out for realizing that it needs to improve its college-going rates and for actively working in that direction. Its participation in the AHE network and its innovative use of technology are excellent examples of taking action to produce the skilled workers demanded by today's global economy."

West Wilkes' AHE program was first funded by ARC in 2006, when the school's college-going rate was 43 percent. In 2007 the rate rose to 81 percent, and it has since remained substantially above the 2006 rate.

ARC is also helping fund the Wilkes County One-to-One Laptop Computers initiative, a program providing laptop computers to ninth-grade students as part of a complementary effort to encourage students to remain in school.

AHE centers in nine states have reached more than 70,000 high-school seniors since 1999, providing support that has led to a 60 percent college-going rate for this group.