From left are Roane State Middle College students Kaleb Garrett, Jarrett McGill, Caitlin Paolucci and Leif Erickson.
Dec. 9, 2016
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
Now in its third year, the Middle College program at Roane State is getting thumbs-up reviews from several current participants, who go to college in the morning and return to their high schools for afternoon classes and extracurricular activities.
“I love it,” said Caitlin Paolucci, now in the second year of Middle College, which allows motivated students to obtain a college degree at the same time they graduate from high school.
“I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” said Caitlin, who intends to enter a university as a junior next fall and major in marketing.
She’ll graduate in May, both from high school and from Roane State. In addition, Caitlin works as the assistant to Roane State Middle College Coordinator David Lane.
Jarrett McGill, also a second-year Middle College student, admits he was a bit wary when he first enrolled in the program. Now, he's enthusiastic about Middle College and says his Roane State classes are helping him prepare for his plan to study computer art at East Tennessee State University.
First-year Middle College student Kaleb Garrett had a busy schedule this fall. After college and high school classes, the Rockwood Tigers lineman went to football practice.
“There’s a lot more homework,” Kaleb said of the Middle College course load, “but it’s not unbearable. The (Roane State) teachers are super eager to help you out, and everybody is very nice.”
“I love the program,” said Jonathan Watson, who will graduate both from Roane State with an associate degree and Rockwood High in May 2017. “It’s a lot different from high school; a lot more fast-paced, and that’s good. It’s definitely going to help me.”
Leif Erickson also attends Rockwood High. Leif said the college environment offers “more freedom.’
“It’s less restrictive,” Kaleb agreed. “You have to learn how to deal with that freedom,” he said, while seated in in the college’s library in Harriman. “I get a lot done here.”
Twenty Roane County high school students were in the first graduating class. “They’re all in upper division classes now in universities, and all of them seem to be doing well,” said Lane, the program’s coordinator.
There are now 93 high school students in the program - 46 who are taking college freshman courses and 47 in the second year of college studies.
The students are from Roane, Anderson, Morgan and Campbell counties and attend Roane State campuses in LaFollette, Harriman and Oak Ridge.
Lane said Roane State’s goal is to expand Middle College to include other counties served by the college.
“We’ve had an incredible amount of community and corporate support,” he said.
Students who score well in statewide aptitude tests are eligible, and Lane travels to area high schools to tell prospects about Middle College. He praised the participating high schools for their “communication, cooperation and planning.”
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