Middle School Access Day gives kids a taste of college

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BENNINGTON — The Community College of Vermont's Bennington campus celebrated its first Middle School Access Day on Wednesday, welcoming students from Manchester Elementary-Middle School.

In total about 50 eighth grade students attended the Access Day, which last from 9:30 a.m. until about 12:45 p.m., with their teachers. CCV Coordinator of Academic Services Jeannie Jenkins said that Middle School Access Days, which are designed to give soon-to-be-high-schoolers a brief glimpse into higher education, have taken place at other CCV centers around the state, but this is the first that has been hosted in Bennington. Jenkins said that she hoped the center could host other area middle schools in future years.

Jason Pergament, director of the Student Success Program and Burr and Burton Academy, learned about the Middle School Access Days and reached out to Jenkins, who he has worked with on the Emerging Leaders Program, to interface on hosting one for the Manchester students.

"You'll have a lot of fun today," Jenkins said to the students once they were all seated, "We want it to be highly interactive... The purpose of today is really to give you a chance to see a little bit of what a college class is like." To that end, five CCV Bennington faculty members taught 45-minute "mini-classes" that were designed to give the students insight about what a college class is all about.

Conservation educator Jen Loyd-Pain taught, "It's Alive! Discovering Wildlife Biology," which discussed the role forest flora and fauna play in telling us about the health of an ecosystem. Students learned about the history of origami and made their own origami books with artist Sarah Pike in "The Art of Origami Book Design." In "The Wonderful World of Video," Jeff Grimshaw taught the students the basics of multi-media projects. Jody Schade broke down the economic realities of various education and career paths in "Financial Reality Game." Finally, Ananda Forest presented "Journeying and Animal Spirits," which explored an aspect of Native American histories and cultures through drumming and meditation.

Each student got to attend two of the classes. After, everyone had pizza, and the students got door prizes.

Jenkins told the students during the introductions that they didn't have to wait to start their college experiences. "Starting in high school you can start interacting with college," she said, pointing out the Intro to College Studies course that can be taken as a sophomore; the two free college classes for combined high school and college credit that can be taken in a student's junior and senior years through the Flexible Pathways Act's Dual Enrollment program; and the Early College program that allows a student to start taking college courses full-time for dual credit their senior year.

Reach staff writer Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or @DerekCarsonBB

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