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New JA program helps Springfield teens

Date: 3/18/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE -- A new collaboration between Elms College and Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JA) started last week that will give a group of Springfield high school juniors a taste of college that hopefully will motivate them to graduate from high school and go on to higher education.

Jennifer Connolly, the president of JA, said the Junior Achievement Academy, a first-time program for Western Massachusetts, is patterned after one that has shown success in Worcester. One hundred percent of the students in that program have graduated from high school and 95 percent have gone on to post-secondary education, she said.

The Central High School students invited to participate are all in good standing who have participated in JA programs in the past, Connolly said. They are joined in the program by high school juniors from the Youth with a Purpose after school program.

Among the participating students are Jennifer Christian, Noah Joseph, Danielle Fournier, Shatoya Johnson, and Justin Demos.

Volunteers will teach the class, "JA Career with a Purpose," at the Elms from Savage Arms Corp. in Westfield. Elms College staff and students will join them. The participants will meet after school at the Elms on Tuesdays and Thursday in March and April and will end the program on April 28.

The Liberty Mutual Foundation underwrote the program.

Connolly said one of the goals of the program is to have the students understand the career options open to them in Western Massachusetts.

She told Reminder Publications that given the number of colleges in the area she hopes to expand the program.