Brian Cevellos, 16, of Dover, knows he wants to attend college after graduating from high school. Now he also knows what it takes to succeed as a college student. A participant in this year’s Summer Academy at County College of Morris (CCM), Cevellos and 22 other students from Dover High School took part in master student, mathematics and computer classes, and learned about environmentally sustainable practices during the four-day academy whose theme this year focused on “Going Green.”
“I was here (at the academy) last year and I learned a lot about college and I wanted to know more,” says Cevellos, who will be a junior in high school next school year. “I’m interested in attending college and here I’m learning about how to get in and I’m learning about the environment, too. It’s all information I’m sure I can use in the future.” Some of the interesting things he learned, says Cevellos, are how water can be recycled through purification, how the sun can be tapped to power a range of things from solar balloons to model race cars, and how to make stationary from recycled newspapers.
The Summer Academy, supported by grants from PSE&G and New Jersey Natural Gas, is designed to motivate and prepare high school students for college and expose them to the fields of mathematics, engineering and computer science. Students are selected by their guidance counselors to participate in the program.
For Tia Banks, 16, of Dover, this year’s academy, along with preparing her for college, brought the knowledge that washing her clothes in cold water is more environmentally friendly than washing in hot water. Also a second-year participant who will be entering her junior year of high school, Banks explains that she enjoys the hands-on activities offered by the academy and the chance “to learn in a way that’s not just books and homework.”
The capstone project for the four-day program, which ran from June 28 to July 1, was a race of solar model cars built by the students.
“We want to instill in the students that college is a real possibility and show them that they can succeed,” says CCM Professor Alexis Thurman, the program’s director.
Originally established as Pathway to College in 1990, the program was renamed the Summer Academy in 1992 when Thurman assumed the position of director. Now in its 20th year, the academy provides students with multiple learning opportunities, breakfast, lunch and free transportation to and from the CCM campus.
“We’re showing the students that education can be fun and that it’s okay to be smart,” said Thurman. Over the past two decades, the program has generated a number of success stories including several former participants who have gone on to become teachers.