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Summer Academy Helps Students Build Bridges to a Higher Education

18 Students from Dover High School Participate in 2011 Program
Nick Warholak, who will be a sophomore at Dover High School next fall, enjoys inventing. One of his ideas is to develop an easy-to-use household system to cut plastic bottles into ribbons to reduce their volume and make them easier to recycle. He already has the details worked out and hopes someday to find the financing to turn his idea into reality. As a participant in the 2011 Summer Academy at County College of Morris (CCM), Warholak, along with 17 other students from Dover High, was able to exercise that spirit of inventiveness and discovery.

The theme of this year’s academy, which took place June 27 through July 1, was “Building Bridges” both from the perspectives of inventing and developing a plan for continuing an education through college.

“We want to instill in the students that college is a real possibility and show them that they can succeed,” said CCM Professor Alexis Thurman, the program’s director. Along with participating in hands-on activities, such as building bridges out of balsa wood and K’nex building pieces, the students learned about budgeting, researched scholarship opportunities and gained insight into the college application processes.

“I’ve learned a lot,” said Yarin Rivera, who will be a senior at Dover High next fall. “I’ve learned how to get into college.”

For Warholak, the learning by doing was a key aspect of the program. “The hands-on concept is good. It’s always best to learn by doing things rather than just being told in a lecture format. The program also did a really good job familiarizing me with what it is going to take to get into college.”

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 21st year, the academy provides students with multiple learning opportunities, lunch and free transportation to and from the CCM campus.

The 2011 Summer Academy was supported with a $5,000 grant from the Provident Bank Foundation, $5,000 from PSE&G and $2,500 from Verizon.