One of the best ways to get middle school students interested in college is to bring college to them, and that’s what Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) is doing through a partnership with Leestown Middle School. The partnership, which is in its second year, seemed like a natural fit because of its location next door to BCTC’s Leestown Campus, said Dr. David Hellmich, BCTC vice president of Academics.
“BCTC offers programs to our students that we don’t have the time or resources to provide,” said Leestown Middle School Principal Cynthia Lawson. “It’s another opportunity for them to learn and grow and also to hear from someone outside the school about the importance of working hard and getting a good education.”
The partnership has grown into three programs: Operation Preparation, which is a statewide initiative to provide college advising and planning, Zero Hour classes, which brings BCTC professors to Leestown Middle School for a series of classes on a variety of topics, and Access to Careers, which will bring Leestown Middle School eighth graders to BCTC’s Leestown campus on April 11.
The Zero Hour classes are conducted from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. once a week for several weeks. Last fall, students learned about film making and produced and starred in their own public service announcement. They also have participated in classes on cultural diversity and world organizations and learned about youth who are making a difference in the world. Currently, they are studying forensic science through a program called CSI: The Case of the Missing Diamonds. In this hands-on class, students are learning about crime scene observation, fingerprint, blood type and fiber analysis and chromatography. They also will conduct a mock trial where the evidence they collect will be presented.
On April 11 during Access to Careers, students will visit classes on BCTC’s Leestown campus to get a firsthand look at what college is like.
“Getting middle school students to think about college and see that it is a possibility for them is the goal of the program,” Hellmich said. “It’s never too early to plan for college, and this program will show many of the students a whole new world of opportunity for education and careers they may not even know about.”