High school freshmen from 11 New Jersey school districts arrived at Kean University this week to kick off the Kean Scholar Academy, a new dual-enrollment initiative that prepares selected high school students for future academic success and allows them to start earning college credits as early as ninth grade.
In all, 104 high students will take part in the Kean Scholar Academy in the upcoming academic year. The class arrived on Kean’s campus in Union for a four-week orientation that will include remote sessions as well as a week at Kean Skylands in Jefferson.
Launched by Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., the Academy will provide mentorships, internships and other college experiences in addition to the opportunity to earn college credits.
“We are excited to see the Kean Scholar Academy get underway and to welcome our newest members of the Kean Cougar family to campus,” Repollet said. “Kean is strongly committed to providing equity in higher education. The Academy offers opportunities to students who may not otherwise have them but who have the motivation and academic strength to succeed in college.”
In the fall, students will begin taking two college classes for credit, alternating between in-person classes and remote learning from their high schools.
Jason Lester, special assistant to the president and the executive director of the Academy, said students enjoyed their first day. They toured Kean’s main campus, including athletic facilities and residence halls, and completed college applications they can use to apply to Kean when they graduate high school in four years.
Student Naoemi John of Plainfield said the highlight was “seeing the whole campus. We could see what we can look forward to,” she said.
The Kean Scholar Academy’s first entering class comes from East Orange, South Orange-Maplewood, Hillside, Plainfield, Roselle, Union, Newark, Orange, Passaic, Carteret and Elizabeth. Students were invited to apply by their districts based on their grades, school attendance, involvement and commitment to excel.
The Plainfield School District sent eight students to the Academy. “We are so proud to be a partner with the Kean Scholar Academy,” said Superintendent Diana Mitchell, Ed.D. “Our inaugural class of students is leading the way for future cohorts.”
Plainfield student Alberto Albarracin said the day was fun. “The highlight was getting to know the other students,” he said.
His mother, Carmen Rodriguez, said she is very proud of her son. “I told him he should take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way,” she said.
East Orange, meanwhile, sent 22 students to the program. “This is an exceptional opportunity for our students. It opens the door for access and opportunities for not just our students but for their families as well,” said Superintendent AbdulSaleem Hasan.”We sincerely thank President Repollet and Kean University for recognizing the extraordinary talents of our scholars.”
Students will remain in the Kean Scholar Academy for all four years of high school. In the first two years, they will take college courses in English, math and prerequisite subjects with other Academy students. In 11th and 12th grades, they will take classes in their selected major with other Kean students. At the same time, they will take high school classes and work toward their diploma.
The students’ home school districts will pay their tuition, using grants and federal funding earmarked for programs to accelerate student success. Kean will provide technology, some transportation and other support.