It's been a rocky road for Dooly County Schools. Last November, the state suspended the Dooly County Board after receiving a poor accreditation score from an outside agency. Governor Nathan Deal then dismantled the board and started fresh with new members. But in June, things started to turn around for Dooly schools when they earned their full accreditation.

Wednesday, a group of Dooly students were honored by the state for their scholarly achievement. County leaders told say the students' success is a sign of positive changes to come.

“It's an emotional day, and it's a day of celebration,” said Dooly County Superintendent Celeta Thomas. “We're letting our setbacks be our comebacks.”

Five Dooly County students are now Georgia REACH scholars as they prepare for their futures. It's an accomplishment that months ago seemed far out of reach.

Dooly County Superintendent Celetea Thomas says the scholarship ceremony is a sign that their students are preparing for College and Career Readiness programs. “We've increased our data. We recently got our CCRPI scores and we have a slight gain and there’s room for improvement,” said Thomas.

But with laser-like focus and community support, Thomas says the future looks better for Dooly County schools, and even brighter for these young scholars.

As REACH scholars, students make a commitment to maintain a 2.5 GPA, remain drug and alcohol free, and meet with their mentor until they graduate from high school. If the students honor their contract they will each receive a ten thousand dollar scholarship for college.