Cook Middle School's Class of 2017 Gets on Track for College Thanks to SSU Partnership

compact.jpegLawrence Cook Middle School Principal Patty Turner believes that the new Compact for Success with Sonoma State University is a "ticket for every student at the school to enter a world of opportunity."

The Compact for Success program, a new partnership between Santa Rosa's Lawrence Cook Middle School and SSU, stands to encourage students to start thinking about higher education early by guaranteeing those who successfully complete the program admission to the university.

A special Compact for Success kickoff for seventh graders in the program is planned for Thursday, Dec. 1 on the SSU campus when six busses carrying students and staff from Cook arrive on the Rohnert Park campus.


Those in attendance will include Dean of the School of Education Carlos Ayala, representatives of Student Affairs, as well as SSU student representatives some of which are former Cook and Elsie Allen students.


A vast majority of Cook students come from homes where parents have not attended college. The Compact for Success program gets students on an early track for college admission, before high school missteps risk causing a student to lose a spot in college.


"Their future is in their hands to walk the path toward success," says Turner. "The positive impact and results are observed daily. We are very grateful to SSU and the Santa Rosa City School District for this partnership. All of our students including the 90% socioeconomic disadvantaged will hopefully find no barriers to achieving their dreams."


The Cook program segues into the Elsie Allen University Center program, which sends students to SSU's campus to earn up to a year's worth of college credit before graduating from high school. Lawrence Cook Middle School and Elsie Allen High School will provide a rigorous college preparatory program for all participating Compact for Success students to ensure their success.


The program is modeled on a 12-year old program between the Sweetwater Union High School District and San Diego State University. It requires that students sign a pledge to fulfill California State University system requirements and graduate from Elsie Allen "in high standing in my community."


To qualify for the SSU admission, students must graduate from Elsie Allen with at least a 3.0 average in college preparatory curriculum, pass entry-level math and English placement tests, and declare a college major, along with other requirements.


SSU's financial aid staff will work to develop and further determine the parameters of a Compact for Success supportive educational foundation to assist the students involved. Qualifying students will also be helped in obtaining financial aid for tuition and other costs related to attendance at SSU.


SSU will provide a rigorous course of study for students admitted from Lawrence Cook Middle School/Elsie Allen High School Compact for Success Program and will introduce Compact students to university life and to the campus through a mentoring/advising program, says Dean of Education Carlos Ayala.


"This is a remarkable academic partnership made possible by the SSU's president Ruben Arminana and the SRCS Board to support the wide range of students in the Southwest Santa Rosa area who need help getting on the college track," says Ayala.


"It allows them to understand what is necessary to become college ready by the time they get into Elsie Allen High School."

SRCS Board President Frank Pugh added the partnership is a great and unique opportunity for the parents and students attending Cook Middle School and one which is not available to any other school in Sonoma County.


"I was the first in my family to attend a university and I know how important it is for our students to receive the support that they need in meeting their goal to earn a college degree," he says. "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."


For more information, contact Patty Turner, Principal, Lawrence Middle School, (707) 528-5156 or Carlos Ayala, Dean of School of Education, (707) 664-2132.

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