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UMPI partners with Carleton Project on alternative school site for Presque Isle

Friday, 03 April 2009

The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Carleton Project held a joint press conference on Friday, April 3 to announce a partnership that will allow the alternative private school to establish a permanent location in the Presque Isle area.

President Don Zillman and Jennifer Walker, Executive Director of the Carleton Project, were joined by UMPI's Center for University Programs Chair Kim-Anne Perkins and Carleton Project Board Member Roger Shaw in announcing that the University will provide classroom space on its campus for the Carleton Project. This agreement will allow the Carleton Project to offer classes to students in the greater Presque Isle area while providing them with important exposure to the atmosphere of a college campus.

"We are so pleased to be working with the Carleton Project on this effort to create important educational linkages for local students," President Zillman said. "We believe the positive educational experiences that students with the Carleton Project have on our campus will only help them to make the decision to continue their education and experience success once they get to college."

The Carleton Project is a private alternative school that offers students in grades 9 through 12 the opportunity to obtain their high school diploma in a non-traditional setting. Project officials work individually with students to meet their academic potential and map out a college plan. Most Carleton Project graduates go on to a two- or four-year college.

"We're here to support and work with students who are serious about graduating and reaching their goals for the future," Walker said. "All of our students feel a strong support network which helps ensure their success. One of our objectives is to work very hard to have these supports and partnerships available for each student and that's why this partnership with the University of Maine at Presque Isle is so important to us."

This collaboration increases the number of Carleton Project learning sites to three; there are well-established sites in Houlton and Livermore Falls. In fact, the original relationship between UMPI and the Carleton Project was started in Houlton when the alternative school established a site at the University's Houlton Higher Education Center. Based on the success of that partnership, Perkins said, it seemed an appropriate endeavor to create an onsite location for the Carleton Project on the University's campus.

Talks began last fall to develop a closer working relationship between UMPI and the Carleton Project and to find a location in Presque Isle where the project could establish a classroom site. Officials finally settled on a secure, low-traffic space on the ground floor of Park Hall, one of the campus's dormitories. They also identified ways that the Carleton Project students would be able to utilize the campus as part of their learning experiences, including the use of the campus library and attendance at cultural events, academic presentations and lectures, and campus-wide activities, such as the upcoming University Day, a day filled with presentations on UMPI students' research.

While the partnership offers many advantages to the Carleton Project, Perkins said it also provides some important benefits to the University.

"This collaboration will allow us to be a part of creating the educational continuum," Perkins said. "It also will ease the transition to college for some of these students and we hope some of them will choose to do their undergraduate studies here. These are students who, through their unique high school experience, have become very invested in their education, so we'd be working with students who have made some mature decisions about coming to college."

Carleton Project classes are underway now in Park Hall. Those in attendance at the joint press conference were able to tour the new site and view the unveiling of the new sign at the entrance of the classroom space. For Carleton Project officials, this is where a bright future for their students in the Presque Isle area begins.

"Being on campus every day, taking advantage of some of the opportunities that UMPI can offer our students, and having supportive staff doing the preliminary work with our students to make their transition into college as smooth as possible only further ensures the success of the Carleton Project and our students," Shaw said.

For more information about the Carleton Project, please visit www.carletonproject.com.