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  • The Narrative Project

Amidst the Pandemic, CT RISE & Maloney High School Prepare Students for Postsecondary Success


August 18, 2021


Jerrod Ferrari



RISE Network recently published Plugged In: Challenge Normal, which spotlights new innovations and promising practices pursued by school communities during the pandemic


Meriden, CT - Through a partnership with the RISE Network, Maloney and Platt High Schools in Meriden are engaging students in College Prep Academies to prepare incoming 12th graders for their senior year and postsecondary success.

“Earlier this summer, we released a report to shine a light on the many ways school communities have come together during the pandemic to innovate and more fully meet student needs,” said Emily Pallin, Executive Director at the Connecticut RISE Network, which recently released part two of a year-long study focusing on promising practices during the pandemic. “Maloney’s College Prep Academy sends a powerful message that all students thrive when provided with opportunities to pursue their dreams.”

At an event held Thursday, Aug. 19, at Maloney High School, students and staff spoke about the importance of programs like the College Prep Academy. Enrolling 56 students at Maloney High School and 53 students at Platt High School, Meriden’s College Prep Academies are helping students get a head start on the college process. The college planning process can be daunting and overwhelming for students; the summer programs are providing rising seniors with personalized support to complete key access milestones by, for example, researching colleges, building resumes, exploring careers, learning about college affordability, and completing college essays.

“I am so proud of the students and educators taking part in Maloney’s College Prep Academy,” said Jennifer Straub, Maloney High School Principal. “Through programs like this, we are removing access barriers and helping all students pursue their college and career goals. We have dozens of students who are taking time out of their summer vacations to prioritize their futures, and that’s a wonderful thing to see.”

Summer college and career programs in Meriden and across the RISE Network are reaching nearly 300 rising seniors this summer. These programs respond to demonstrable needs. By 2025, 70 percent of Connecticut jobs will require education beyond high school. As a state, we are not prepared to meet these demands, and persistent opportunity gaps disproportionately disadvantage low-income students and students of color. While the vast majority of students and their families aspire to postsecondary education, far too few students achieve their dreams for success in college, careers, and/or the military. Only 20 percent of low-income high school graduates in Connecticut will earn a postsecondary degree within six years of graduating from high school. And college access challenges are being exacerbated by the pandemic. In 2021, Connecticut postsecondary enrollment rates dropped by 3.5 percent and community colleges experienced a 15 percent decrease in enrollment.

“At RISE, we are committed to providing all students with meaningful opportunities to pursue their passions and explore multiple postsecondary pathways,” said Sherry McLaughlin, Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success at the Connecticut RISE Network. “After such a challenging school year, it’s inspiring to see teachers and counselors working so hard during the summer months to support student success.”

Another way the RISE Network and partner high schools are promoting postsecondary success this summer is through the network’s summer melt texting campaign. RISE has expanded its summer texting campaign this year to support over 2,100 graduates in the Class of 2021. As in past years, graduating seniors sign up to receive personalized text message reminders and nudges over the summer months to help them stay organized and pursue their college and career goals.

The 2021 campaign builds on RISE’s success in prior years and helps seniors tackle access milestones as they prepare to enroll in college, and it also keeps recent graduates in contact with educators as they face new challenges and questions in the summer months following high school graduation.

Through the College Prep Academy and summer melt texting campaign, RISE and Maloney provide students with personalized support to support college and career success

The RISE Network has partnered with educators, students, and families at Maloney High School and the Meriden Public Schools for the past six years.

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The RISE Network (RISE) is a Connecticut-based non-profit organization with a mission to empower educators to achieve breakthrough results, helping all students realize and achieve their full potential. Leveraging its innovative partnership model, RISE facilitates networks for school improvement by bringing together school communities across the state to advance shared goals. The RISE Network’s mission is to ensure all RISE high school students graduate with a plan and the skills and confidence to achieve college and career success

RISE districts and high schools commit to sharing resources and expertise, pursuing innovative solutions, strengthening school and district systems, and empowering educators, students, and families through continuous improvement. Currently, RISE represents a multi-year partnership between eight school districts across Connecticut, serving 13,000 students across ten high schools to support educators striving to ensure every RISE high school student graduates college and career ready

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