First National College Signing Day Encourages Young People to #ReachHigher

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The local Ballou High School marching band performed in full regalia as young people from more than 30 Washington, D.C. high schools flooded George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium to celebrate the District’s first college signing day event on Friday, May 1, 2015. (photo credit: George Washington University)

May 1, the deadline by which colleges traditionally require admitted students to submit a letter of intent, has now been declared National College Signing Day. Along with more than 600 additional Signing Day events, the event at George Washington University was part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher campaign to honor graduating seniors who will continue their education at a 2-year college, 4-year college, community college or a certificate or credential program.

The Reach Higher campaign celebrates seniors across the nation who have decided to attend college. Almost 100 students crossed the stage during the Washington, D.C. event, many with academic scholarships, to proudly announce where they would be attending school in the fall. Accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Washington, D.C. Deputy Mayor Jennifer Niles, and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser greeted the future college freshmen with words of encouragement as they prepare for their new journey. Exceptional event planning by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education helped create a day to remember.

National League of Cities staff members gather for a photo celebrating first lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative.
National League of Cities staff members gather for a photo celebrating first lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative.

I was proud to represent the National League of Cities (NLC) on this warm spring day as I and others volunteered at the college singing day event. Over the past two months, NLC has disseminated social media press kits to city government offices persuading them to show their alma mater pride on May 1 and encourage young people in their communities to pursue higher education. Many cities responded with details about the exciting events they were planning and their mayor’s involvement.

Plans have already begun for next year’s event, and NLC will continue to support young people who dream big and dare to #ReachHigher.

Miles Sandler
About the Author:
Miles Sandler is the Senior Associate for Education in the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Miles can be reached at