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Program receives $1.2M grant

Funds to help Hollidaysburg students achieve success

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Times have changed, especially in the world of education.

On Wednesday, Robert Gildea, Hollidaysburg Area School District superintendent, recalled his days as a student at the school. He said he was a senior in 1986 when the space shuttle program was prominent.

A close friend he called “Tom” dreamed to be an aerospace engineer and build shuttles and rockets. But Tom’s grades weren’t good enough to get into college, and he spent 30 years working in a factory and holding random jobs.

Because of a $1.2 million grant from the state to implement the National Math and Science Initiative’s College Readiness Program, students at Hollidaysburg will have a greater opportunity to achieve success.

The program is a three-year initiative that helps teachers and students. Further, “the three-year program dramatically increases the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores on advanced placement math, science and English exams and has a proven track record of improving results for traditionally underserved and female students,” according to the NMSI web site.

“Now, in 2018 the world has changed. You need a whole new level of skills to survive in 2018’s global economy. Because of NMSI and the generosity of Senator (John H.) Eichelberger (Jr., R-Blair) and many others, there are opportunities for kids like Tom to take higher courses and gain those skills,”Gildea said. “This enables kids like Tom to now achieve their dreams.”

Gildea said the district is constantly looking for ways to achieve its mission of helping each student reach his/her individual potential.

“The NMSI College Readiness Program opens doors for countless students who would otherwise not be afforded the opportunity of taking a high rigor AP course. We are grateful to NMSI and Sen. John Eichelberger for providing this life-changing opportunity to Hollidaysburg Area School District students,” Gildea said.

The grant provides funding for Hollidaysburg and four other Pennsylvania school districts. A total of 24 Pennsylvania districts are now part of the program.

“We are very excited we have got involved with NMSI. This is a national initiative that supports STEM programs. This has opened more doors for students to take AP classes,” said Maureen Letcher, high school principal.

Officials thanked Eichelberger, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, for his help in enabling Hollidaysburg to be included in the program.

“This is a good program, I get exposed to a lot of different programs. Some are better than others. This is a great concept. It is well thought out, and we are lucky to get it in Pennsylvania. This is a unique program for this area,” said Eichelberger.

Muriel Alim, NMSI program manager, said she was excited to see Hollidaysburg become part of the program.

“I see a perfect natural balance between our missions. These are courses that will advance you to the next level. What we see in this partnership is every student that comes through the halls of this high school will have this opportunity to take advanced courses,” Alim said.

To date, the College Readiness Program has reached more than 1,000 public high schools across 34 states and produced positive student outcomes across a variety of settings — urban and rural, disadvantaged and affluent, traditional and charter.