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UR-East EPO partnership launches Step to College

UR-East EPO Partnership Launches Step to College Program.
College-prep program aims to groom East scholars for college success

A new college preparatory program created under the University of Rochester’s EPO partnership with East High School aims to prepare Rochester students for admission to — and to persist in — two-year and four-year colleges.
Step to College (S2C) launched this summer, providing a four-year, free residential college preparatory program to East scholars. The college-prep program allows students to experience the demands of college first-hand.
The first cohort of rising East freshmen was housed at the University of Rochester, where students have been able to sleep in dorms and study on River Campus for two weeks this summer.  The innovative pre-college program, which began July 22, focuses on providing high-quality academic, social, recreational, and community-related experiences to East scholars.  The students will complete their first year on River Campus on Friday, August 3, with presentations, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Morey Hall (Room 321), about what they’ve learned during their two weeks on campus.
The S2C program is made possible through a generous grant from the William and Sheila Konar Foundation. Under the leadership of East EPO Superintendent Shaun Nelms ‘04W (MS), ‘13W (EdD), who also serves as an associate professor at the Warner School of Education, and Special Assistant to the East EPO Superintendent Lorna Washington ‘06N (MS), the S2C program is led by Sherri Armstrong, director of S2C, who manages the ongoing activities and the residential program on River Campus.
East Step to College programAs part of their experience on River Campus, East scholars participate in core courses in reading, writing, and math as well as electives, such as videography and public speaking.  In the area of recreation, scholars experience culturally relevant activities, such as Kemetic yoga and Afrobeats dance. The scholars also venture out into the Rochester community for team-building activities, such as the high ropes course and rock-climbing walls at RocVentures Indoor Climbing Center.
One East scholar said, referring to the ropes course: “Oh, I see what you did, Ms. Armstrong. This [course] gets harder and harder, like college. But we get used to it, keep trying, and finish!"
The curriculum is based on a backward design approach—one that places emphasis on student-centered learning activities—and focuses on what students need to know and be able to do to be successful in freshman courses in a higher education setting. The small classes are co-taught by East teachers and University professors.
After their summer session wraps up on Friday, East scholars will participate in ongoing meetings throughout the school year to ensure academic success. As part of the program, scholars also partake in nightly workshops and academic lectures to assist them with the college application process, financial aid, college life, and positive relationship-building with peers, mentors, professors, and student organizations.
East scholars will return for an additional three consecutive summers of this intensive two-week boot camp. During the last two summers, they will advance to college-level courses in reading, writing, and statistics.
S2C leaders plan to expand the college-prep program beyond East by offering it to any qualifying Rochester City School District (RCSD) student by 2020. 
The University of Rochester, as the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) for East High School, has assumed full management responsibilities for East, effective July 2015. The new East ( consists of a Lower School (grades 6-8) and an Upper School (grades 9-12), and aims to prepare all students for a successful transition into adulthood. A comprehensive community school with a robust set of services to support its diverse students, East offers a strong academic and career preparation program, including a daily advisory program and a full complement of athletic and extra-curricular activities that support and engage students.