A major focus of Ansonia High’s new principal this year is to increase the number of educational and career opportunities for the 596 students in Grades 9-12. It appears that Paul Giansanti is well on his way to achieving this goal: Since September, and with the help of several colleagues, several new partnerships have been forged.
They include the new Allied Health program with Griffin Hospital, which is admitting 10 freshmen this year. The students will need to meet several requirements: have good grades, attendance and conduct; volunteer 50 hours each summer at Griffin Hospital starting this summer; take Advanced Placement science courses in the upcoming three years, and complete a 17-week course taught by hospital instructors in their senior year. By graduation in 2022, they will complete the Patient Care Technician Program.
Last week, AHS announced a new partnership with King’s College of Wilkes-Barre, Penn., which will guarantee admission and a four-year renewable scholarship of $16,000 each year to AHS seniors who meet established criterion. That includes a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) and SAT or ACT test scores in order to be accepted to the college.
“No application will be necessary; it will be automatic acceptance,” Mr. Giansanti explained. “The student will automatically receive a $16,000 scholarship and may receive additional merit scholarships or financial aid from King’s College.”
For admission to the college, a student must have a minimum of a 2.75 weighted Grade Point Average (GPA) and meet minimum scores on the SAT or ACT standardized test – a 960 SAT with a minimum of a 480 in each section or a 21 ACT composite. Students wishing to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant, Nurse or Engineer would need to have higher GPAs and SAT or ACT test scores, as well as have grades of 85 or better in all math and science classes.
The road to King’s College and this new partnership came as a result of a past connection with Ansonia High. Frederick A. Pettit, Class of 1992 from Ansonia High, has been Vice President for Institutional Advancement at King’s College since 2011. Pettit is a 1996 graduate of King’s College and a 2000 graduate of Temple University, where he completed his law degree. He has kept in touch with friends, family and former coaches from Ansonia throughout the years and, since 2011, he has been looking for a way to create opportunities for students from Ansonia. He noted that 40% of the population at King’s is first generation college students, and the community is very similar to that of the Lower Naugatuck Valley.
“I was one of those kids. My whole world opened up through King’s,” he said, noting the small, focused individual attention that is given by the college. “I’m convinced that for the right students from Ansonia, King’s can be an incredible opportunity for them.”
Mr. Giansanti said he spoke with Mr. Pettit and staff from the admissions office and financial aid office before the holiday break in December. “We told them what we wanted to be able to offer our students, and King’s College came to Ansonia last week with a Memorandum of Understanding. It was exactly what we need!”
Mr. Pettit said the MOU is only the third one given out by King’s College. The agreement with AHS is the first with a public high school and the first outside of Pennsylvania. He credits his family, friends and mentors in Ansonia and at King’s College for guiding him throughout his life. “I’m really excited about being able to do this … it’s a way to help my home town.”
There are a number of other opportunities that are being explored with colleges and businesses. Dennis Proto has been working at Ansonia High since October as a new part-time grant-funded College and Career Outreach Advisor. Mr. Proto, a retired Sikorsky employee who served in the supply management department in various capacities, has been knocking on a lot of doors. This week the following two programs were announced:
A dual enrollment partnership with the University of Bridgeport, which will allow AHS juniors and seniors to receive one high school credit and three college credits for each dual enrollment class they take at Ansonia High. The dual enrollment program is being offered free of charge for AHS students. AHS also offers dual enrollment courses with Housatonic Community College, the University of New Haven through Project Lead the Way, and the University of Connecticut.
The following classes were approved by the Ansonia Board of Education Curriculum Committee at a meeting on Jan. 7, 2019: Foundations of Business, Advanced Computer Applications, and Honors College Writing. The University of Bridgeport has approved the following teachers as adjunct staff eligible to teach the UB dual enrollment courses: Giovanna Calabrese, Shane Kingsley, and Patricia Lees. Three additional courses – Political Science, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus – are awaiting approval as dual enrollment courses for next year.
AHS is now one of eight schools in Connecticut to partner with Teamsters Local 1150 and Sikorsky in “The Teamsters-Sikorsky Career Pathways Union Mentoring Program.”
This program will provide students in their Junior and Senior years the opportunity to work full-time at Sikorsky Aircraft during the summers following their Junior and Senior years. As a student intern, they will work hand in hand with highly experienced union mentors learning the tasks and procedures necessary to build the finest and most sophisticated helicopters at Sikorsky’s world-class factories.
In November, 20 AHS students in Grades 9-11 started meeting twice a month after school with a group of students from Southern Connecticut State University and their professor, as part of a new mentoring program. The “Brotherhood of Scholarship and Excellence Mentor Program” focuses on goal setting, time management and conflict resolution. Mr. Giansanti said the program will help the high school students “get to the next step” as they prepare for college or career.
Dr. Joseph DiBacco, Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent-elect, is very pleased with these new programs for Ansonia students. “Our students deserve all of this and more,” he said. “I’d like to thank the many individuals at the high school and those in the colleges and businesses we have asked to step up and give our Ansonia students the same opportunities that are offered in high schools throughout our region. One of our district goals is to prepare every Ansonia High student for college or career, and these new programs fit the bill perfectly. We look forward to adding many more.”