College conference

Michael Smith
An information booth at Ardmore High School on Thursday. A college and career conference was held to give guidance to students nearing the end of their high school career.

Cold rain could not keep more than 100 parents and students from baked potatoes, prizes and presentations on education. Ardmore High School opened its doors to parents of juniors and seniors on Thursday evening to help families make informed decisions for the final year of high school and beyond.

“Specifically, I’m hoping to get some [information] from University Center about concurrent classes next year,” said parent Jacque Stedman. While her two oldest children knew exactly where they wanted to attend college, her daughter Mesa Stedman is currently a junior and still exploring options for college.

“My plan right now is to go to PA school or sports medicine, because I’m a trainer right now,” Mesa Stedman said. Her senior year will likely be spent taking prerequisite college classes, something principal James Meece said is important for many Ardmore High School seniors.

“Kids can leave here with their first year of college done,” Meece said of concurrent enrollment. “They can jump into college and they’re sophomores when they start.” Currently, 66 students are concurrently enrolled in higher education.

Sabra Emde, district liaison with Ardmore City Schools, said 175 people responded to an invitation for the event. Cold and rainy weather did not seem to have a major impact on attendance as most of the seats in the cafeteria were filled ahead of the planned seminars.

A baked potato bar started the event, and Meece said some downtown merchants donated items for raffles. For most of the 2-hour event, however, guests could attend their choice of presentations during three 30-minute sessions.

According to a brochure provided at the conference, presentations from eight area colleges and universities discussed admission criteria, application processes, program information and scholarship information. Counselors were available for students who want to play sports in college and tribal resources were also provided.

The need for these information seminars has existed in the past and continues today. ”There are quite a few parents who aren’t high school graduates or college graduates, so a lot of kids going through don’t have the parents who can guide them,“ Emde said. “We are actually hosting this under a Title I parent and family engagement event,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education website, Title I is a federal grant program that provides financial assistance to schools with high rates of poverty among students.

“A component of that Title I federal program is that you have to provide parent and family engagement interactions,” Emde said.

Similar conferences have been held in the past, but this is the first in recent memory, according to Meece. Thursday’s seminar was likely not the last.

“We hope to do one at the beginning of school next year,” Meece said, adding that getting started on financial aid applications earlier could be helpful for students.