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Don't let students' college dreams melt away

The last thing Nia Abdullah wants this summer is melting.

Melting? Isn’t that something that happens as winter turns to spring?

The Summer Melt is a term educators are all too familiar with, and Abdullah, the principal at Bowen High School, is working hard not to have it happen at her Southeast Side school.

Summer Melt refers to what happens often in high schools, especially those with low-income students. Graduating seniors who have been accepted to colleges and look forward to going find that they are unable to attend, for this reason or that, when the time comes around. It has nothing to do with desire, and often it’s a small — but to them, insurmountable — roadblock in the way.

And though Abdullah’s seniors already have graduated, their futures are very much on her mind and part of her every day.

“It’s our task to get them there that first year,” she said during a recent phone interview. “It’s our responsibility to make sure there are no barriers.”

At Bowen, which has an enrollment of about 500, some 60 graduated seniors who have been accepted into colleges, both city and four-year institutions. The Bowen grads have been accepted to state schools, private universities and colleges out of state. And Abdullah and her team are determined to get them there.

She has set up a GoFundMe campaign, Bowen Goes to College. It is seeking donations — the goal is $8,000 — to meet the high school grads’ needs. More than 90 percent of the school’s students come from low-income homes, and so costs that might not seem a lot to you or me can be a real deal-breaker for them when it comes to attending college.