Middlesex Community College’s Meriden Center has “accepted” more than 66 new students – all middle school students from Meriden and Southington. These high-achieving students have been selected to be part of the program known as the Meriden Enrichment Academy at the Meriden Center, which was created in collaboration with the Meriden Public Schools in the spring of 2012. The academy, which consists of workshops taught by MxCC instructors, runs programs on Saturdays in March and April. This spring students from the Southington District will be participating in the academy as well.

The first set of workshops will be “Make Your Own Website” with Adam Chiara and “Introduction to Video Production,” taught by Robert Mowen.  The second set of workshops will be “Using the New York Times for Critical Reading and Thinking” with Barbara Giffin, and “Creating Animation and Video Games” taught by Annjanette Bennar.

“The Middlesex Community College partnership will offer extraordinary opportunity to sixth graders within our district, said Dr. Joseph Erardi, superintendent of Southington Public Schools. “This Saturday enrichment program, housed within the MxCC Meriden campus, allows our middle school youngsters to individualize their learning in an optimal state-of-the-art learning environment.”

In addition to academically challenging these students, the Academy was created to allow middle school students to experience first-hand what a college environment is like.  MxCC hopes that by helping these young students become more familiar college, they will be encouraged to apply for and attend college after high school.

“Middlesex Community College is thrilled to be teaming up with the Meriden and Southington to provide these students with such a unique and interactive enrichment program,” said Tami Christopher, director of the Meriden Center. “The data shows that the earlier students are exposed to college experiences the more likely they are to enroll and succeed in post-secondary education.”

The Meriden Center recently completed an 8,000 square foot renovation and expansion. “Our new Learning Lab, Mac Lab, and community room are new learning spaces and we are happy to be able to share them with our community” said Christopher. “We are in discussion with Wallingford Public Schools and expect that this enrichment program will continue to grow and provide valuable experiences to many students in our community.”

A recent report issued by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Connecticut State Department of Education states that only 67 to 73 percent of Connecticut’s 2009 high school graduates actually enrolled in college.  In Meriden, approximately 29 percent of 2004 graduates from the two high schools have since graduated from college. Awareness programs such as this program will hopefully help improve these statistics.

“This academy is an exceptional opportunity to allow some of our high performing students to enjoy this early exposure to college, to learn from college-level instructors, and to engage in fun and challenging courses,” said Dr. Mark Benigni, Meriden Public Schools superintendent.  “We thank Middlesex Community College and the Meriden Center for being a terrific partner with our schools, students and families.”