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A partnership between Cayuga Community College and several school districts and community agencies in Oswego County continues to pave the way for high school students to get a head-start on their college education and local employment.
Started in 2018, the Early College High School (ECHS) program housed at Fulton City School District's G. Ray Bodley High School establishes a learning community where enrolled students take college courses, start earning a college degree and prepare for their career at the same time. Students who complete the program can earn a degree in just one year at Cayuga and some will have jobs waiting for them with local employers.
“This program has offered so many opportunities for our students, not only to earn college credits but to experience the rigor of college classes and the different levels of expectations,” said ECHS Coordinator Sean Broderick. “Our end goal is for students to enter a career pathway with a job they like that allows them to make a great living. This is a great way for our students to get an early start and reach their future goals.”
There are two ECHS pathways at G. Ray Bodley High School, an Information Technology program available to Fulton City School District students and the Early College Health Sciences, a collaboration between Fulton, Hannibal and Mexico school districts. Both programs create an opportunity for enrolled students to earn their Regents diploma while accumulating credits toward a college degree at Cayuga.
“The College is committed to working with district and workforce partners to prepare students for success in college and in their careers. The Early College programs allow students to save time and money as they prepare for local careers. We are excited to help our students become valuable members of the Oswego County IT and healthcare workforces,” said Professor Sarah Yaw, Cayuga’s Director of K-12 Partnerships & Academic Pathways.
Along with a specific curriculum, ECHS offers tutoring, financial aid counseling, workplace visits and internships. Students take courses with College faculty, and partnerships with Oswego Health, Oswego County Opportunities and the Workforce Development Board of Oswego County create opportunities for students to learn in the field.
“ECHS students receive industry-focused college credits at no cost to their families and, upon completing the program, are more prepared to enter the workforce,” said Chena Tucker, Executive Director of the Workforce Development Board of Oswego County. “Our companies gain the essential skilled talent they need, and our community a stronger workforce — a strong workforce equals a strong economy."
Chloe Joyce, a student in the Hannibal Central School District who is enrolled in the Health Sciences degree pathway, said the past year has been a great experience that has further inspired her toward her goal of becoming an occupational therapy assistant.
“This program has opened me up and lifted my confidence, and the content has really been a foundation for what I’m going to be doing as a career,” she said. “I want to make lives better and help people in any way I can, and this program is a fantastic start for me and anyone else interested in a career in healthcare.”
Oswego Health Vice President of Human Resources Marquand Brown said the agency is proud to help create new educational opportunities for students as they prepare for careers in healthcare.
“Oswego Health is proud to be a partner as we see this as an investment in our community and future,” said Brown. “We hope this experience and opportunity will inspire students to enter the profession and hopefully choose to remain local to provide care.”
The Information Technology program is now completing its third year, and Fulton district junior Madison Clark said the program has been a great opportunity to prepare for her eventual career goal of working at NASA.
“It’s definitely helped me a lot. It’s completely free — you just have to give your time and your effort. Having the chance to work with the teachers at Cayuga and in the Fulton district has been wonderful,” she said. “It’s an amazing program, anyone who can take it should take it.”
G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurstsaid the school is proud to participate in the program and of the partnerships that support ECHS.
“These programs, along with our collaborations with college and workforce partners, have opened a variety of opportunities for our students,” said Parkhurst. “The ECHS experience brings meaning and purpose for meeting the NYS Graduation Requirements. It builds a career pathway starting in 9th grade.”
The Information Technology and Health Sciences programs accept approximately 25 incoming ninth-graders at the start of every academic year. Enrollment is based on several factors, including academic achievement, behavior and attendance. Student applicants will need to interview to enroll and must demonstrate an interest in the program.
Interested students entering ninth-grade in the fall of 2021 in the three districts can find more information and apply at https://www.fultoncsd.org/Page/125.