PERU — A group of eighth-graders from Clinton County will soon be selected for the inaugural class of Adirondack P-TECH.
A total of 30 under-served students with aptitudes for science, math and technology will take part in the six-year, full-day program, which kicks off this fall.
Located on the Peru Central School campus, Adirondack P-TECH will not only provide its students with a high-school education but access to a free two-year college degree and career prospects, as well.
“It’s a unique high-school opportunity,” said Peru Junior/Senior High School Principal Chris Mazzella, who will also serve as P-TECH’s principal.
Funded by a seven-year grant from the state, the program is State Pathways in Technology Early College High School, formed by a public-private partnership involving Peru, Saranac and Beekmantown central schools; Clinton Community College; Clarkson University; ETS; and six local businesses.
Ten students from each of the participating school districts will receive a spot at P-TECH, where they will engage in full Regents coursework, as well as specialized curriculum and project-based learning designed to promote college and career readiness in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Clarkson is providing curriculum support for the program, while Fujitsu, Bombardier, Nova Bus, Spencer ARL, Swarovski and Camoplast will provide mentors to students throughout their schooling, as well as summer internship opportunities.
In addition, P-TECH students will earn college credits through CCC, and graduates will receive an associate degree in one of three fields: manufacturing technology, environmental technology or computer technology.
“This experience will connect high school and college with the world of work through industry partnerships,” Saranac Central Superintendent Ken Cringle told the Press-Republican in an email.
“P-TECH graduates will be work ready for competitive jobs or able to continue their education towards a bachelor’s degree.”
“I think it will be an incredible benefit not only to the students but also to the workforce,” added P-TECH Program Coordinator Melissa Barcomb.
Playing a role in such an initiative is exciting, said Mazzella, adding that a State Pathways in Technology Early College High School in New York City has gained national attention, including a visit from President Barack Obama.
“It’s a very unique opportunity for the North Country,” he said.
Each participating district has identified 35 to 45 potential candidates for the program, Mazzella continued, and those students will be invited to attend an informational event at CCC next month and apply for a seat at Adirondack P-TECH.
“It is a competitive process,” he said.
The hope, the principal added, is to have the High School’s freshman class selected by the second week in March.
In addition, a technology lab at Peru Central is being renovated to accommodate P-TECH students, who will have access to state-of-the-art drafting tables, computers and manufacturing equipment, as well as a robotics lab.
Two technology teachers have been hired for the new school, according to Barcomb. However, other classes will be taught by Peru Central teachers, at least for the first year.
After that, she said, additional staff may be required as students advance in grade level.
“All three school districts are looking at ways to make sure that this is sustainable beyond the lifetime of the seven-year grant,” Mazzella added.
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