Courtesy of Drue Sokol, Photo Editor

Thanks to a new parntership between East High School and the University, students at East High now have access to a College Prep Center for assistance with college applications, financial aid, scholarship searches, SAT/ACT registration and preparation for college visits.

“The aim is to support students so that they feel competent when navigating the entire college process and increasing the overall number of East High students who successfully enroll in college,” said Anthony Plonczynski, Associate Director of the Kearns Center, which aims to provide educational opportunities to minority students.

The center officially opened at East High School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 25, though UR staff have been counseling students at East High since January 2010.

The center is funded through a joint partnership between the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Arts, Science and Engineering and the UR Office of Admissions. The ceremony included guests from JP Morgan Chase, the Rochester City School District, the University of Rochester, Rochester City Council and the Rochester City School Board.

The Center is also funded by a $85,000 gift from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. The grant will allow the center to expand its staff. Currently, one full-time staff member, Rebecca Conrow, is directing the center at East High. Two AmeriCorps members will join and assist with the operation of the Center by the end of September.

Students at East High will have access to the College Prep Center before, during and after school for assistance and preparation. The center intends to assist the upperclassmen, in addition to preparing students as early as seventh grade for the future.
The center has set-up a typical college dorm room, complete with a bunk bed and study desk for students to virtually experience college life.

“The East High effort is also just one of many programs that the Kearns Center undertakes to help develop college readiness and a college ‘pipeline’ for students in the city,” said Jonathan Burdick, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

The center is designed to lessen the heavy workload of the school counselors, who already have 300 or more students to counsel with personal, academic and emotional problems, Plonczynski said.

East High is listed on both the state-wide and nation-wide lists of schools that are in need of improvement.
Burdick stated that East High is among the schools that routinely send well-qualified students to the University of Rochester.

“The hope for the program is to put a framework together on how institutions of higher education, K-12 school districts and community organizations and agencies can partner to improve student access to opportunity and success,” Plonczynski said.

“We hope to make East High School as a whole college ready and college going in every way.”
Since 2000, UR has enrolled nearly 55 East High students in its undergraduate programs.

Kim is a member of the Class of 2013.

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