Saturday Academy

La Rachel Henderson (left) a senior at Hazelwood (Missouri) Central High School, was mistress of ceremonies Saturday at the graduation ceremony for UMSL's Saturday Academy. Her mother, Lisa Taylor, celebrated with her.

Once again this year, nearly 400 high school students successfully completed Saturday Academy classes at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Those students were recognized in an awards ceremony March 13 at the Millennium Hotel in downtown St. Louis. More than 1,000 people attended the event, including parents, friends, teachers and campus administrators.

Saturday Academy is designed to help ninth through 12th-grade students build strong academic proficiency essential to collegiate success. Much of the emphasis is placed on math, science and writing skills, but the curriculum also is based on college entrance exam test standards. The university has stepped up its recruitment efforts for the program in recent years, jumping from just 50 students five years ago to nearly 400 for the last two years. Parents also attend Saturday classes once a month to learn about the college admissions process, financial aid and other pertinent topics that include effective communication, understanding generation gaps and mental health issues of teens.

According to Natissia Small, director of the university’s pre-collegiate programs, 100 percent of the seniors have gotten into college since 2003. This year’s senior class, which totals 80 students, has been awarded more than a million dollars in scholarship aid so far. They have been accepted to more than 90 institutions including Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University; Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.; Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala.; and all four universities in the University of Missouri System.

“We are extremely pleased with the continued growth and success of the Bridge Program,” said Small. “As the need to provide effective college access programming for students today increases, we are confident that Bridge will continue to meet the challenges for students and parents. The results of our success are based on Bridge students matriculating to post-secondary institutions and obtaining their college degree. Just as important, we have empowered parents to become knowledgeable resources for their students as well as others in the community.”

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Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel