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By Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 08 February 2012

Channelle Crittenden with her mother, Tracy Crittenden.

Jefferson High School's Middle College for Advanced Studies has three new partners. Portland State University, Oregon State University and Warner Pacific College have joined the University of Oregon in pledging substantial scholarships to lower-income students who graduate from the program and meet their entry requirements.

College representatives signed memorandums of understanding, laying out their promises to Jefferson students, at the school Wednesday, Feb. 8. Terms differ among the partner colleges, but in general, the scholarships will cover the cost of college tuition.

"This is an incredibly important moment," said PPS Superintendent Carole Smith. "To have this level of understanding, and to have these three institutions investing in the future of students."

Oscar Gilson, left, Middle College program director,  with Jefferson High School senior Robel Haile, center, and Middle College coordinator Damon Hickock.

At the University of Oregon, for example, Jefferson Middle College graduates who qualify for federal Pell grants will be able to graduate with no debt.

"We are impressed by the Middle College model and believe Jefferson will prepare students for college success," said Roger Thompson Ph.D., Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at UO.

The Middle College program allows students who complete required classes at Jefferson to attend classes at Portland Community College's Cascade Campus. Students who qualify for Pell grants and also meet the universities' entry requirements will be eligible for the scholarships once they have at least one year of community college classes. About 413 students are currently enrolled in the program, 58 percent of them African American.

"I know without a doubt and with God's help I am going to college," said Channelle Crittenden, a freshman. "I am very elated to be able to go to college in high school. And I know that because these credits are transferrable I can go to Europe if I want to; I can stay here and go anywhere across the country."

Self Enhancement Inc., the nonprofit that works with youth to help them succeed in school and in life, is the program's other essential partner. Staff from SEI help students succeed by delivering intensive support services to teens and their families. Students in the program typically graduate with between 12 to 45 college credits.

Linda Harris, left,  a former SEI principal, turned administrator, and Marcy Bradley, SEI executive director, are proud of what students are accomplishing through the Middle College program.

"When I look into my future all I see are open doors," said Robel Haile, a senior and captain of the soccer team, who has been attending classes at PCC. Haile is leaning toward studying biology at Warner Pacific College. "I believe these partnerships are a wonderful opportunity. Because of these programs I am now one step ahead of other high school students."

All PPS students are eligible to enter the lottery (open Feb. 3 through Feb. 29) to attend Jefferson. The school is hosting information sessions for prospective students at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and Feb. 22. Upperclassmen can enter the lottery to transfer. For more information contact the Enrollment and Transfer Center 503-916-3205 or [email protected]

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