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Walcott, football star urge rising HS students to plan for college

In its latest effort to get young, male students thinking about the path to college, the city enlisted glow-sticks and a Big Ten football player.

Denard Robinson, the University of Michigan’s start quarterback, joined schools chancellor Dennis Walcott at the City University of New York’s John Jay College this morning to kick off a new initiative to promote college awareness among city students.

The initiative, called Five Ways Education Pays, is one small piece of the Bloomberg administration’s Young Men’s Initiative. It is being spearheaded by the College Board, which has rolled out similar programs in other states.

In his speech, which followed a morning of workshops and lectures about the financial, academic, social and emotional challenges of college life, Walcott told close to 600 rising ninth grade boys that now is the time to begin planning for college.

“We expect all of you to graduate not just high school, but to graduate college,” Walcott said to an auditorium decked out to look like a night club with lights, bass-heavy music, and balloons. “I would not have this job as chancellor if it hadn’t gone on to college and gone on graduate school. I am really looking for one of you to take my job in the future.”

The students hailed from 17 middle schools, which were invited to participate because they have struggled to meet city academic standards and were identified as Persistently Low Achieving by the state.

In one of the breakout sessions, Rashad Moore, a recent Morehouse college graduate who attended city public schools, fielded questions from anxious students about how to pay for college and how to fit in if they choose to go to college out-of-state.

“I went to P.S. 308 in Brooklyn, and saw the same people for years,” Moore, who graduated from high school at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts, said. “That transition from one community to another was my greatest fear. … One of the greatest experiences of going to college was meeting new people.”

The college awareness initiative will continue through the next school year with more workshops and college networking sessions at individual city schools, officials said. Other schools attending the event included Junior High School 166 George Gershwin, I.S. 286, and M.S. 296.

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