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Mentoring program gets students on track for college

Suzie Romig
Re-1 Public Information Officer
Photo courtesy of Roaring Fork School DistrictColorado Mountain College student Lorena Trejo (sitting on table) serves as a Pre-Collegiate Program mentor and academic role model to ninth-grade students, clockwise from left, Jessica Rosa, Stephanie Rosa, Isela Miranda and Giovanny Anaya.
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Ninth-graders at an after-school mentoring meeting are talking about studying, tests, teachers and grades, but they are thinking about college.

Even though they have their high-school careers ahead of them, they are planning for college because they are afraid of one thing ” they may not be able to go. Lower grades and especially lack of money could keep them from reaching their educational goals.

They joke about not wanting to work at low-paying, unskilled jobs all their lives, but there is a noticeable undertone of seriousness. They say they want to “be somebody,” “do something” and “have a good life.” A majority of the students’ parents did not attend or never finished college.



“I think it’s going to be hard to get a scholarship, and you will have to look since you are a freshman,” said Glenwood Springs High School student Giovanny Anaya.

The students come to the mentoring program for moral support, peer motivation, camaraderie and role-model guidance in their academic struggles and achievements.



The freshmen are part of a new Pre-Collegiate Program in the Roaring Fork School District aimed at guarding against dropouts and at increasing enrollment in post-secondary education. The free program targets middle- or high-school students who are economically challenged or have “first generation” college potential.

“There has been a need within the middle schools, especially academically, to give the students the study and personal skills that they need to go on to high school, finish high school and go to college if they choose,” said program Assistant Coordinator Mike Barbee. “Students who are in the program say it’s really important for them to have a mentor, to have personal support.”

“If you want to be successful in school and professionally,” said Program Coordinator Ramon Verduzco, “you need to have a plan and a mentor.”

The program currently includes about 85 “at risk” sixth- through ninth-grade students from across the district and will be expanded to include 10th-graders next year.

The support program, based out of Basalt High School, is a cooperative effort between the RFSD, University of Colorado and Colorado Mountain College with funding from the Aspen Valley Community Foundation and other contributors. Organizers say the program has existed in Colorado for 17 years and that 90 percent of participating students successfully complete high school and continue to post-secondary schooling.

Juniors and seniors in high school and local CMC students serve as group mentors. Professionals in the community also can serve as mentors, or “academic buddies.”

In addition to mentoring, the program also reaches out to the students’ parents and sponsors Saturday Academies and a week-long Summer Residential Program at the University of Colorado.

For more information on the Pre-Collegiate Program or to volunteer as a mentor, call Mike or Ramon at 384-5967 or e-mail rverduzco@rfsd.k12.co.us.

To receive a weekly e-mailed “Community Update” or for Roaring Fork School District questions, call 384-6000 or e-mail Info@rfsd.k12.co.us.


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