matthew franklin roanoke college

Roanoke College Senior Matthew Franklin leads HopeTree Academy students on a tour of the campus.

Roanoke College recently hosted a unique tour group. While hardly a week passes that prospective students or visiting dignitaries aren’t strolling about campus, this particular group came from only about a mile away at the invitation of some Roanoke College students.

Roughly a dozen HopeTree Academy students were invited to tour Roanoke College by three Roanoke College seniors who became familiar with the private day school through a class activity. Seniors Matthew Franklin, Robert Edwards, and Gus Rose were assigned to gather information about a non-traditional school through their ‘Issues in Education’ class. Their professor, Dr. Lisa Earp, helped them make arrangements to visit HopeTree Academy, part of HopeTree Family Services, just up the street.

After interviewing staff and some students, Franklin, Edwards, and Rose put their heads together and came up with a plan to return the favor.

“We thought if we brought some kids down who were juniors and seniors it might give them the option to see what was possible, regarding continuing their educations,” said Matthew Franklin.

HopeTree Academy provides specialized education services for day students from up to six surrounding school districts. HopeTree Academy students can work toward one of six diplomas certified by the Virginia Department of Education, or complete their General Equivalency Diploma. Like many students at any other high school, the cost of higher education is a major concern when Academy students consider plans for further education or training after high school. The Roanoke College students were sensitive to that.

“We wanted to give the kids a chance to come visit the college, see the campus, talk to the financial aid office, and see that it is a viable option. We wanted them to see how friendly the environment is and how it could impact their lives if they chose to come this route,” said Roanoke College student Robert Edwards.

With nearly four years of higher education behind them, these three seniors hope they were able to help the HopeTree Academy students see what is not only possible for their futures, but for the futures of their communities.

“Education is important because it shapes you as you go into the future. We want smart people in the workforce. Education also makes you more valuable as an employee. Knowledge comes in many different forms and many different aspects of life,” explained Gus Rose.

For more information about HopeTree Family Services, please visit or call (540) 389-2112.

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