CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The 170 students that gathered in the Austin Peay State University Morgan University Center on Thursday afternoon were a little hard to classify. Were they high school students or college students?
Actually, they’re both. Those talented individuals are juniors and seniors in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System’s (CMCSS) STEM Academy and Middle College, but this year, they also will be enrolled in college classes at APSU.
“Welcome to dual-enrollment and welcome to college,” Melissa Champion-Emerson, principal of Middle College at APSU, said during a College Welcoming Convocation on Aug. 22.
The students will take free classes at APSU for college credit, thanks to a couple of new grants awarded to CMCSS. A Tennessee Dual Enrollment Grant will cover a portion of the tuition. The CMCSS will pay the remainder of the tuition for Middle College students, and the STEM Academy students will use both the dual enrollment grant and a Tennessee College Access and Success Network grant to pay for classes at APSU.
“You ever been in the right place at the right time?” B.J. Worthington, CMCSS director of schools, asked the group. “You’re there my friends because what’s being given to you today is an opportunity. An opportunity that has a monetary value attached to it.”
That monetary value is around $900 per student. Worthington emphasized that this opportunity is the first step in a long journey, and the students in that room represented tomorrow’s future leaders. On Monday, they began taking classes alongside APSU students.
APSU President Tim Hall reminded the students that they were in that room because of their dedication and their academic abilities.
“You can do this,” he said. Then, he had the students turn to their neighbors and tell them the same thing.
Middle College, a partnership between CMCSS and APSU, opened with 120 students in the fall of 2008. The STEM Academy opened in 2010 with an inaugural class of 48 ninth graders. Those students are now entering their senior year.
State Rep. Joe Pitts, who helped identify some of the grant money to help cover tuition for the STEM students, attended the ceremony. He encouraged the students to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.
The Middle College and STEM Academy students now are enrolled in 245 college courses at APSU.
For more information, contact Melissa Champion at firstname.lastname@example.org.