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Vincent Ladd, a 2014 graduate of Sheehan High School, talks with School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo at the HubCap, 128 Center St., in Wallingford, Aug. 14, 2014. The school system formed a partnership with Middlesex Community College to create a program targeting high school graduates to help them create a plan to pursue college or a career. | Eric Vo / Record-Journal

Course aims to help high school graduates find career path

WALLINGFORD — Middlesex Community College and the Wallingford schools are working together to offer recent high school graduates a year-long course to help decide what they want to pursue in college or as a career.

The program is open to recent high school graduates “looking to investigate career opportunities or to get a leg up on their future if they chose to not go on to a formal university setting or are working,” School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said.

Students in the program — named Connections — will meet three days a week for classes at the HubCap, 128 Center St., where they’ll learn about career exploration, networking, and skills such as interviewing and public speaking.

The idea for the program came last year as administrators thought about the Wallingford 100 — the town’s goal of achieving a perfect graduation rate. While the goal is to have every student graduate high school, Menzo said, the focus is on “student success.”

“We know when students leave us they’re not prepared for what they want to do,” he said.

Menzo said he met with Tami Christopher, president of the Middlesex Community College’s Meriden Center, to discuss ideas to further help graduates. Menzo presented an early draft of the plan to a number of businesses.

“Part of the program is providing students with an internship,” he said. “I presented it twice and both times the businesses were very supportive.”

Students will choose their internships “depending on what their interests are,” Christopher said.

“We really want to see where student interest lies and what the needs of the business community are,” she said.

More than students benefit through the partnership, Menzo added, because businesses that agree to offer paid internships can train individuals interested in working.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to work with students that have merging interests,” Menzo said. “And it’s a possible way to fill any employment gaps they have in their businesses.”

Students are responsible for paying for the course, which costs $900, but financial assistance is possible through a private donor, Menzo said. The internships can help pay for the course, Menzo added.

Christopher and Menzo are hoping 25 students enroll in the program.

To spread the word, an open house was held at the HubCap Thursday evening for interested students and parents.

About a dozen attended the meeting, including Vincent Ladd, who graduated from Sheehan High School in June.

“It sounds like a great program,” Ladd said. “I didn’t really have a plan after high school — just general interests.”

The pilot for the Connections program will begin Aug. 27. Both Christopher and Menzo hope enough students will enroll to get the program running. Those who were unable to attend the open house can contact Menzo at (203) 949-6502 to learn more about the program.

If successful, there are plans to expand it to other types of students, such as those who have been out of school for a number of years.

“It’s a new and unique opportunity with Wallingford,” Christopher added. “Once we develop it, we hope to expand it to students in our service area.” (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ

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