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High schoolers gather at MIT to celebrate federal programs

Some 1,000 high school students from throughout New England met at MIT February 24-25 for a program to expose them to New England area colleges and for a march and rally at Cambridge City Hall in celebration of the federal Educational Opportunity Program's 30 years of achievements.

The 1995 TRIO Day Celebration-held in Massachusetts for the first time-is a yearly gathering organized in conjunction with the New England Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (NEAEOPP). It brings together motivated and disadvantaged youths from across New England to provide leadership experiences and higher education information.

TRIO programs (named after the initial three programs) were established by Congress and receive funding through the US Department of Education to help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education. Two-thirds of the students served must come from low-income families in which neither parent graduated from college.

Friday, each student visited two of 16 participating area colleges. On Saturday, after a welcome by MIT's Paul Parravano, assistant for community relations; Marsha Johns, president of NEAEOPP, and Ronald Crichlow, director of MIT's Office of Educational Opportunity Programs, the students participated in a college fair with more than 100 New England colleges represented and attended panel discussions on either college admissions or on "Life after TRIO," given by TRIO alumni.

About 60 of the students participated in a special program called the Eclipse Challenge where they worked in teams to develop their own federal budget, setting fiscal priorities and cutting the budget deficit.

The MIT Office of Educational Opportunity Programs offers students college preparation through the Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound programs that serve Cambridge students in grades 6-12 and Somerville students in grades 9-12. More than 85 percent of the programs' participants have gone on to complete post-secondary education.

"MIT is pleased to serve as the host institution for this important program," Provost Mark S. Wrighton said. "We are grateful for the leadership of Ron Critchlow in coordinating the MIT Upward Bound Program and the Educational Talent Search.

"These programs encourage and nurture educational achievement among young people, and these efforts build important bridges to, and within, the Cambrige community. Hosting the New England-wide group of high school students on this occasion provides an additional opportunity for MIT to extend support to efforts to build the educational achievements of the nation's youth."

The MIT Educational Talent Search Program, including MIT undergraduate volunteers, provides 650 students with advising and academic support. The MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound Program supports 70 motivated Cambridge students by providing year-round intensive tutoring, counseling and instruction in study skills, science, social studies, language arts and math.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 1, 1995.

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