It is too often said that the RCSD doesn’t properly prepare its students for college. This simplistic, negative perception overshadows the many positive programs that, on a daily basis, are giving students the support, experiences and tools necessary for academic success after high school. Case in point, the College Prep Center at East High School.
When you first walk into the Center, you will undoubtedly be amused at the sight of a mini-dorm room equipped with a bunk bed, giant beans bags, a kitchenette, with books, coffee mugs, basketballs and Frisbees spread around the packed space.
The visual prop is designed to introduce younger students who have never been to a college campus on just what to expect from a first year experience.
Upward Bound students Ericka Granison and Demonet Leggett, who act as informal Prep Center ambassadors, showing the ropes to younger kids, laugh at some of the preconceptions about dorm life. 9th graders are shocked to discover you have to bring your own sheets, refrigerator, snacks and tv. As Erika and Demonet say, “They expect there will be a maid. Or even a waitress.” Students are aghast to learn they will be responsible for cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry. Mom won’t be with you.
The dorm room is fun and eye catching, but only a very small part of what the Prep Center does. Created as a partnership of the University of Rochester’s David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Arts, Sciences and Engineering and Office of Enrollment, East High School, and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Center is powerful testament for how the community can make city school better. And it costs the RCSD almost nothing.
Fundamentally, the Center empowers all students at East High to realize their academic and career potentials through preparation for successful college enrollment. The Center collaborates with teachers from all departments throughout East to provide resources and information to groups of students about the college-going process. The emphasis really is on all students, especially those most hesitant about trying college.
One of the most successful feature are tutors from the University of Rochester who come once a week after school to assist students in studying for tests, working on homework assignments, or other projects. After school, the Center becomes a mecca for students who want to do work, prepares for SATs, or just socialize in a safe, learning-oriented atmosphere. Just look at the animated expressions of the kids in the picture!
Things like the College Prep Center work. Opportunities like this abound throughout the District, but they only really work when the community knows about and supports them. So spread the word, and come look at the East High dorm room if you ever feel nostalgic for shared bathrooms, bunk beds and all nighters.