MIDDLEBURY - For many students with no serious thoughts of attending college after high school, visiting a campus can be a daunting experience. But thanks to College for Every Student, a Vermont-based non-profit organization that helps open new doors for rural and urban students, a group of Adirondack-area high school students got the royal treatment at Middlebury College March 19.
Seventy high school students representing seven Adirondack schools took part in an unusual student leadership summit at the college. The students are members of the Adirondack Scholars program; they are engaged in activities initiated by CFES which helps young people prepare for college.
Schools participating in last week's summit included Crown Point Central School, Johnsburg Central School, Moriah Central School, Peru Central School, Plattsburgh High School, Wells Central School and Willsboro Central School.
Back at their respective schools, each student scholar is required to engage in three practices: mentoring, leadership through service and pathways to college.
The visit to the Middlebury campus included all three practices as scholars worked with their peers to develop and strengthen leadership skills. They also interacted with college students, met a Spanish professor, toured the campus and were entertained by a college singing group and martial arts club.
The keynote of the summit were presentations by attendees to their student peers.
Students from Crown Point discussed bully prevention, Wells students discussed going green-using a hydrogen-based fuel cell and hemp-derived products-and Johnsburg students talked about how to raise academic achievement.
English teacher Rachael Laclaire of Crown Point Central School was proud of her students performance during the summit presentations.
"CFES has really created a wonderful opportunity for our students to step up and be leaders in the community," she said.
According to Tara Lambert of CFES, "CFES is committed to raising the academic aspirations and performance of these youth. We want students to prepare for, gain access to, and succeed once they enroll in college."
Some of the rural New York students visiting Middlebury may never have stepped foot on a college campus; most, if not all, were surprised at what they saw.
Crown Point student Antonio Rodrigeuz was impressed with what he saw.
"I was invited to join our CFES school leadership group," he said. "It's a great experience plus we're visiting several college campuses. I plan on following my two brothers by attending college, too. I am interested in either criminal justice or business."
CFES partners with urban and rural schools from New York to Hawaii. It focuses on three steps in directing students to pursue higher education:
First, and as early as possible, CFES with campus partners exposes students to college as a real option in life.
Second, the organization creates mentor relationships between younger students and older individuals who can talk about college learning and life.
Third, CFES believes that its "leadership through service" approach inspires young students to take responsibility and provide service to their schools and local communities to help inspire leadership skills.
For more information about CFES, see the organization's website www.collegefes.org or call Tara Lambert at 802-462-3170.