Contra Costa Times: West Contra Costa school district hosts 'signing day' for college-bound seniors


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EL CERRITO -- In another step in promoting the message that a college degree can lead to long-term success, the West Contra Costa school district recognized more than 60 college-bound seniors from six district high schools and two continuation schools at its first College Decision Day Celebration held Saturday at El Cerrito High School.

The idea of College Decision Day is aimed at mimicking National Signing Day for high school football stars when they make their commitments to the schools where they plan to play, according to district community outreach director Marcus Walton.

"It's a concept that's gaining steam throughout the country, celebrating all kids who are going to college," Walton said.

Among the big success stories at the event were two students who received a head start toward college success from a couple of innovative district programs.

Mia Glosson of Middle College High School in San Pablo will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall to major in public health.

Middle College students work toward their high school diplomas and take college classes at Contra Costa College simultaneously. Glosson said she has earned enough college credits in the program to be able to complete her bachelor's degree in two years instead of the usual four.

De Anza High School senior Michelle Croda is going to Yale University in the fall to major in biomedical engineering after participating in the district's Ivy League Connection program last summer.

Ivy League Connection gives about 40 to 50 district students annually an opportunity to take short summer courses at Ivy League and other prestigious eastern colleges and take tours of other campuses.

Croda said she was also accepted at Harvard, Brown and Princeton but chose Yale over Harvard because she thinks Yale places more of an emphasis on undergraduate compared with graduate programs.

Jose Rivas, a program director for the Center for Educational Partnerships at Berkeley, was also on hand for the event.

Rivas said the center is co-sponsoring 37 such decision day ceremonies at high schools and school districts statewide.

The center also sponsors about 40 recent college graduates for one to two years to provide counseling services at high schools, including Erik Vargas, a 2014 Berkeley graduate who is working this year and next at Pinole Valley High School. "We come to schools and college admissions fairs to get the word out about preparing for college so that students know what they need to do to get in and succeed once they get there," Rivas said.

School board President Todd Groves said the number of West Contra Costa graduates attending college is on the rise in part because the district is using some of the extra funding it is receiving under the new state funding formula to hire more college counselors.

California has begun to send more funding to districts, such as West Contra Costa, with higher percentages of students from low-income families and English language learners.

About 42 percent of district graduating seniors have completed the courses required for admission to the California State University and University of California systems, Groves said.

"Sometimes a student will earn a 'D' in a required class that knocks them out of eligibility or we would be doing even better," he said.

Reposted from Contra Costa Times

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