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Nichols College

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Nichols Pipeline Program Encourages Local High School Students

Photo of the Bartlett High-Nichols College Pipeline Project

A unique Nichols College initiative to steer local high school students towards college careers has just wrapped up its 13th year.

The Bartlett High-Nichols College Pipeline Project, which this year included more than a dozen students from Bartlett High School in nearby Webster and met on Fridays in April and May, is designed to introduce participants to college life, surroundings, and work, with an eye towards pursuing a college degree.

“The M.O. is to identify students who have potential to go to college but struggle academically,” explains Nichols Environmental Science Professor Mauri Pelto, who founded the program.

Pelto combines environmental fieldwork with sessions on preparing for college and dealing with distractions interfering with academic success in high school.

In this year’s program—which simulates a college day beginning at 8:00 am at the high school—Pelto and Bartlett High biology teacher Kathie Flynn regularly led students in two-hour field labs to study all streams draining into and out of Webster Lake, along with the French River.

The students visited six streams each Friday to observe conductivity, clarity, discharge, and pH.  Along the way, they learned the techniques of careful measurement and replication of measurements.

“They feel good about themselves,” says Pelto, who adds that the Pipeline Project has shown measurable results. He notes that a majority of the students who participate get on track to go to college and increase their grade point average significantly.

Pelto also points out that 18 Pipeline students have attended Nichols after graduating high school.

“I think that this program does make a difference to the students,” Pelto says. “In the end they know that someone cares, and they don’t always get that elsewhere. Nobody has taken the time to spend the day with them.”

Nichols has lately expanded its academic partnership with Bartlett through the Nichols Honors Academy, which focuses on the high school’s highest achieving students.  Starting in the fall of 2016, Bartlett juniors and seniors will be able to take college courses on the Nichols campus for dual college and high school credit.

This past year, dozens of Bartlett students visited the Nichols campus for a series of special events, including a presentation by Captain Richard Phillips—whose ship was held captive by Somali pirates—and by Pelto, who showed a video by a recent Nichols graduate that chronicled his annual work surveying glaciers in Washington state.