- Project TEACH, an incentive scholarship program at Hope College whose primary objective is increasing the number of persons of color in the teaching profession, has chosen a 12th group of participating high school students.

A total of four students from the area have joined the program this fall: Crystal Hooper, a junior at Holland High School; Michael Pietrangelo, a sophomore at West Ottawa High School; Amanda Reyna, a junior at West Ottawa High School; and Rachel Zuniga, a sophomore at Holland High School. They will be recognized during a reception at the college's Maas Center auditorium on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Project TEACH (Teachers Entering A Career through Hope) provides mentoring and instructional support for the high schoolers, who begin as sophomores or juniors. The program also provides scholarship aid for the participants as Hope students. The program's goal is to help local students while increasing the number of minorities who become teachers locally.

"We have been very fortunate again this year to have selected such quality individuals who aspire to become teachers," said Barbara Albers, director of Project TEACH. "Each year we search for students who are committed and inspired to take and complete the journey that places them into our local school systems after they graduate from Hope."

All four of the students note that they are motivated by a desire to help others and interest in working with students themselves.

Hooper serves as a student leader with Urban Youth Ministries, working with middle school students. "I like to work with younger people," she said.

Her activities at school have also included competition theatre as well as track and basketball. She is the daughter of Roslyn Hooper of Holland and Eric Harris of Holland.

Pietrangelo enjoyed tutoring other students while in seventh and eighth grade. "I like to help people and I've always been good at helping people understand different classes," he said.

His activities have included student council, band, football and tennis. He is the son of Michael and Tina Pietrangelo of Holland.

Reyna worked with younger students while in elementary school herself, and while in sixth and seventh grade served as an assistant to a fifth-grade teacher. "I like helping people and knowing that I can make a difference," she said.

Her activities have also included serving as a volunteer at a nursing home, engaging in activities with residents. She is the daughter of Anna Garcia of Holland and Atanacio Junior Reyna of Kalamazoo.

Zuniga currently serves as a Peer Assistant Listener at her school, and has also served as a "reading buddy" for younger students. "It is a wonderful feeling, to make a difference and know that you're helping kids," she said.

She is involved in Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and also on the Community Foundation of the Holland-Zeeland Area, Youth Advisory Committee, and has been involved in a variety of other volunteer and community service projects. She is the daughter of Tomas and Natalie Zuniga of Holland.

In addition to Hooper, Pietrangelo, Reyna and Zuniga, Project TEACH includes another four students who are also currently in high school and 16 students who are enrolled at Hope. A total of 10 participants have graduated from Hope through the program, which began in 1996.

The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.