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Viewing their own future

Sixth-graders are given a taste of college life


04/14/2011- The Berkshire Eagle

In just a two-hour period a group of Lanesborough Elementary School sixth-graders went from trying their hand at physical therapy techniques to sitting in the front seat of a police cruiser to handling a rat snake at Berkshire Community College.

Their experience was just a snapshot of what's happening in the fourth annual Berkshire County Goes to College Day program, which, by Friday will have brought nearly 1,250 sixth-grade students to the campuses of either Berkshire Community College, Bard College at Simon's Rock, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts or Williams College.

"I don't think any time is too soon for them to start thinking about college," said Doris Blodgett, a longtime and now retired kindergarten teacher from Lanesborough Elementary School who chaperoned a trip.

Physical therapist and BCC professor Michele Darroch told a group of Brayton School students from North Adams, "Now is a very good time to start studying and stay focused. You've got to work hard if you want to do well."

The Berkshire County Goes to College program is an initiative of the Berkshire Compact for Education, an organization with a mission to get every county student to aspire to completing 16 years of education.

During the campus programs, the younger students meet and interact with college professors and students, tour facilities and get to ask questions.

At MCLA on Wednesday, students got to visit a science lab and see a performance by the NEXXUS Dance Squad, among other activities.

At Simon's Rock, the third site visit scheduled for Wednesday, students got a feel for a college campus complete with dormitories and its own athletic center, as well as visit staff and students.

Back at BCC, the Lanesborough group said they enjoyed their foray into physical therapy, law enforcement and biology programs.

"I think it's really fun and interesting to see what college is like," said Fiona Kelly.

Her classmate Grace Dodig already has her young heart set on Harvard University. "I want to be a lawyer," she said.

"I think this teaches you more about college and the options you have to move forward," their classmate Devon Truden said.