EDITORIAL: Program has plans for college

Meriden is now in its third year of a partnership with Middlesex Community College on a program called Gear Up, which aims to help students in low-income areas go to college. The readiness program includes tutoring, test preparation and financial aid assistance.

The value of such a program ought to be obvious. Many students lack the resources that provide even an awareness of the opportunities, much less advice on how to take advantage of them. Funded in Connecticut through a $25.8 million federal grant, the resources provided through Gear Up can really make a difference.

Meriden state Rep. Hilda Santiago knows how important it can be. “When I was in high school, we didn’t have a program like this,” she said. Santiago was among those gathering at Platt High School recently to recognize “National Gear Up Week.”

Peter Civitello, supervisor of data integration and post secondary planning for the Meriden school district, said the program thrived during the last year of the coronavirus pandemic. “We provided in-person and virtual support for students,” he said.

As a Record-Journal story recently noted, Gear Up stands for gaining early awareness and readiness for undergraduate programs. The 650 freshmen students at Maloney and Platt high schools taking part started the program in the seventh grade. Fourteen-year-old Evo Espiritusanto told the Record-Journal that school was hard before he started with the program.

“I was not the only one,” he said. “I had a group of people motivating me to keep going.”

“The idea is to let you and your family understand that there are resources,” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who was also at Platt High School for the “National Gear Up Week” recognition.

Gear Up is an initiative worth supporting. In both opening up horizons and helping set a path toward goals, it helps young people in a significant way. 



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