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Ogdensburg and Massena students get a taste of college at SUNY Canton

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CANTON - About 50 freshmen and sophomores from Ogdensburg and Massena high schools will become college students for a day today as part of the Smart Scholars Early College High School program at SUNY Canton.

“We’re looking at what courses we’re interested in offering through SUNY Canton next year,” said Cynthia L. Tuttle, Ogdensburg Free Academy high school principal. “They’ll get a real look at college courses. It’s a great opportunity. We’re glad SUNY Canton approached us to be a part of it.”

The Smart Scholars program is intended to give young high school students a heads-up about what college is all about. It was established through a $200,000 state Education Department grant.

JoAnne M. Fassinger, SUNY Canton grants coordinator, said the program is a collaboration between the college and St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Massena Central School and OFA were chosen to participate, she said, “with support of all 17 school districts in St. Lawrence County.”

“As we go forward, the plan is to sustain and expand the program, through other funding sources, to all schools in the county,” she said.

Teachers from participating high schools have been added to SUNY Canton’s list of adjunct professors and offer participants college-level instruction supplemented by exploratory learning opportunities at SUNY Canton. Eventually, according to Mrs. Fassinger, students will choose between a traditional high school graduation path or a career and technical education track through BOCES.

“Our program is part of National Early College Awareness Week,” said Adrienne C. Rygel, an assistant professor in the civil and environmental technology program and Early College High School program coordinator. “Our goal is to have students earn a minimum of 20 college credit hours before they graduate from high school.”

The city school district will send 28 students to SUNY Canton, all of whom are enrolled in either Michael Peo’s design and drawing for production course or Jen Putman and Susan McLean’s advanced computer applications class. Sixteen Massena students will also be attending.

Their day-long visit, including a tour of the brand-new Roos House Athletic Center and Grasse River Suites residence hall, will begin today at 9 a.m. Instruction begins at 12:15 p.m. and includes a crime-scene investigation, a computer building class, concrete experiments, and three-dimensional computer modeling presentation, among other glimpses into SUNY Canton programs.

“It’s an attempt to provide many different snapshots of what some of our different programs have to offer,” said Mrs. Fassinger. “They’ll get a scavenger hunt type of self-guided tour, they’ll be issued a college I.D., and they’ll have lunch in the dining hall.”

The Early College High School program serves to increase high school graduation and college completion rates among those historically left in the gap, while reducing college tuition costs as a result of the more than 20 college credits earned in high school.

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