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Middle College G-R-O-W-T-H

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Middle College Coordinator Damon Hickok (center) with Jefferson High School students (from left) Fernando Hernandez, Monterae Hill, Uriel Robledo-Rivas, Bridgette Lang and Jetser Samuy-Rivas.

This fall a new era begins for PCC’s Cascade Campus and Jefferson High School.

The Middle College partnership between PCC and Portland Public Schools — which enables students from Jefferson to take college credit classes at Cascade — will enroll more students than ever before.

Every incoming Jefferson freshman will be a Middle College student as the high school transforms to become Jefferson High School: Middle College for Advanced Studies. Until now, the program has operated on an opt-in basis.

Freshmen in the Jefferson neighborhood will enroll in Middle College or attend another nearby comprehensive high school. Students from other PPS high schools also will be able to transfer to Jefferson.

“Expanding Middle College to every student is the kind of thing that can change this neighborhood for generations,” said Middle College Coordinator Damon Hickok.

Hickok said students can continue to participate in the many activities and events that have come to characterize the high school experience.

The program’s success is indisputable. Since 2007, Middle College students have passed 87 percent of their college credit classes. Ninety-nine percent of program participants have successfully completed high school, and of these, 72 percent have continued their college studies.

Middle College participants earn college credit while simultaneously working toward high school diplomas. By graduation, atypical Middle College student earns 12 to 15 transferable college credits . More ambitious students can earn a one- or two-year professional certificate or even an associate’s degree. There is no cost to students — the program covers the cost of PCC tuition, fees and books.

One such ambitious student is Bridgette Lang, a freshman at Jefferson. Lang said she’s not only excited about the academic challenge of Middle College but also the chance to save money. If she earns an associate’s degree by the time she finishes high school, she will receive two years of higher education for free.

“Middle College is going to save my mom $40,000,” she said, laughing. Middle College students receive support services, including tutoring, group study sessions and a twice-yearly SAT/ACT preparatory class. Hickok also maintains close communication with PCC faculty in order to track the students.

“College courses are harder and they move much faster than what the kids are used to,” he said.

Middle College students will benefit from the services of Self Enhancement Inc., a 30-year-old nonprofit organization.

Monterae Hill, a Jefferson senior and Middle College student, hopes to transfer to the University of Southern California.

“My first classes really helped me prepare for the classes I’m in now,” she said. “It was h a r d a t f i r s t adjusting to being in college. A lot of my classmates were older than me, and the atmosphere was a little intimidating.”

“When my classmates learned I was still in high school, I could tell that they respected me for being there with them,” she said. “It really helped my confidence to know I could succeed in college.”

For more information about Middle College, call:

  • Damon Hickok at (971) 722-5552
  • Carol Schulman at (971) 722-5556.

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