Twenty-five City Middle College (CMC) students received their College Certificate of Completion at noon Dec. 7 in a ceremony being held in the faculty/staff cafeteria.
CMC was founded seven years ago, under City College Vice President of Instruction Ron Manzoni, with the hope of giving at-risk students at Garfield High School motivation and mentoring to complete high school and continue on to higher education or jobs in a field that interest them.
Professor Lori Oldham, supervisor of the program says, “City Middle College Changes lives and attitudes by affording students the opportunity to actively participate in their own academic, professional, and personal goals while experiencing success with great pride and dignity.”
The program, which more than 600 students have graduated from, consists of a two-week boot camp at Garfield High School with the Oracle program, six weeks at City College, and the remaining time interning for prospective jobs.
Larry Visconty is the contact for the CMC program at Garfield and also is involved in the student selection process. The candidates must have good attendance (being that Garfield is an alternative school, attendance is not mandatory) and write an essay explaining the qualities and reasons they should be in the program. Finally, they are interviewed by Visconty, who chooses the 26-27 students who will be involved in the program.
Once the students have been chosen they start what is called the boot camp, which according to a program pamphlet is “designed to build community through a series of motivational activities focusing on team building, creative problem solving, study skills and career awareness.”
The purpose of the training is to better prepare the students for when they start going to City College, taking college courses and thinking about their future and the skills they will need to achieve their goals.
While at City College for the six weeks, students are taught about various aspects about the workforce, from writing cover letters, filling application, interview techniques and visiting different vocational programs offered.
Not only are they getting education about entering the workforce, they are taking college courses at the same time as well as going to high school. This is called the College Collaborative, which is made up of four college classes: basic skills reading, basic skills writing, business math, and physical science. The classes are made up of half CMC students and half City College students.
Stated in the pamphlet, “This allows Garfield students to experience the attitude and behavior of older, more mature students . improving the maturity level and increasing the educational goals of the Garfield students.”
After the students have completed their six-week courses at City, which they attend every Tuesday and Thursday, they are ready to intern for the remainder of the ten week course.
Oldham says that the supervisors and mentors try to set students up with internships with jobs that they interested in, and though they have partnership with many governmental jobs, they have in the history been able to work with local companies, like a veterinarian.
During the time that the students are taking the program, and even after they are done, they are able to meet with mentors in T-311D where they are able to get help with class work and information about higher education and financial aid programs.
The room has computers for students to work on and even private workstations to better help with the learning process. They also have free access to the Internet, binders, notebooks, folders, copies and pencils.
Oldham expressed how important the mentors are to the success of the CMC students. The mentors all have been Garfield students and have known what is like to be in the place of these students who some feel are unreachable.
The mentors seem passionate about the program and what they do each of them specializing in on area of study.
One mentor, who gave his name as Bert, is a business major who helps with math, and then there is Carlos, who helps with getting information about higher education opportunities to help the students when they go to see the college counselors.
The center also has a mentor who is an English major and one that is well versed on financial aid. Together, they create a team that enables CMC participates to succeed and “change their self image.”
CMC is currently offered three times throughout the year, twice in the spring semester and once during the fall semester. The program prides its self in the fact that they have reduced high school dropout rates and improved academic performances, increased high school diploma completions and college entrance rates as well as expanded career opportunities.
The program is funding by the California State Chancellor’s Grant and the Federal Department of Education through partnerships between the San Diego Community College District and the San Diego Unified School District.
More information about the City Middle College can be obtained by calling (619) 388-3524 or contacting Oldham at (619) 388-3106.