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Alpena High School awarded for college readiness, culture shift

Courtesy Photo Alpena Public Schools representatives, from left, Alpena High School Dean Stephanie Piper, AHS School Success social worker Bryan Robarge (behind Piper), AdviseMichigan College Advisor Jenny Taratuta, Career and Technical Education Director Joyce McCoy, APS Director of Communications Lee Fitzpatrick, ACES Academy Principal Matt Poli (at podium), AHS Principal Romeo Bourdage, and AHS Assistant Principal Jesse Pattison receive the Marina Award at the 2022 Michigan College Access Network annual conference in Mount Pleasant in this photo provided by APS.

ALPENA — Alpena school officials last week received kudos from a statewide organization that recognized the district for strong steps in opening the door for students to attend college.

The Michigan College Access Network, an organization that promotes and strengthens access to postsecondary education, honored Alpena High School with its 2022 Marina Award, presented at a ceremony in Mount Pleasant last week.

The annual award acknowledges a school that has shifted its culture to help students envision themselves as college graduates.

Over the past ten years, College Access Network representatives said, Alpena High School participated in nearly all initiatives offered by the organization,

“Even though they are the farthest community from a four-year college in the state, Alpena High School has worked across sectors and is responsible for a district-wide culture shift around postsecondary attainment,” the organization said in its commendation of the Alpena school.

More than half of Alpena Public Schools students qualify for free and reduced lunch, an indicator of the strain poverty places on many Alpena-area students who may consider post-high school education, said Lee Fitzpatrick, APS spokesman.

Despite those numbers, APS “has consistently been lauded at the state and national level for creating opportunities for students to succeed,” Fitzpatrick said in a press release.

He noted, as contributors to APS’s college-readiness efforts, the district’s Career and Technical Education programs that provide practical career skills alongside college credits, the district’s Early College program that allows students to complete associate degrees and professional certifications by the end of their 13th year of school, and advanced placement classes possibly qualifying for college credit.

“Our goal is to ensure all students who graduate from Alpena Public Schools have the opportunity to design their career roadmap prior to graduation,” Matt Poli, director of ACES Academy in Alpena, said in a statement to the Michigan College Access Network, “and use what they have learned to guide and support them as they move forward with their postsecondary plans.”

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, jriddle@thealpenanews.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.

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