STEUBENVILLE - Kelly Wilson stood at entrance to Eastern Gateway Community College greeting high school seniors and directing school buses arriving for the annual Consider College Fest Tuesday.
"I'm here to direct the buses after they drop off their students and to tell the high school kids where to go. I'm a bossy person, so I was put in charge of directing people," laughed Wilson.
"The kids are very chipper this morning. They are very friendly and very positive. And I know kids in the Ohio Valley sometimes get a bad rap but the students I have seen today are so polite and mannerly. I am impressed with these kids," added Wilson.
COLLEGE LEARNING — Breanna Dalfol, left, and Brianna Green, both seniors at Madonna High School, learned about West Virginia University from admissions counselor Lori Bittner during the annual Consider College Fest Tuesday at Eastern Gateway Community College. Bittner said she saw considerable interest in the university Tuesday from area high school seniors. -- Dave Gossett
According to college officials, approximately 800 senior students from 15 area high schools attended the four-hour long Consider College Fest where they met with EGCC President Laura Meeks and professors and had a chance to talk to representatives from 60 colleges and universities.
"My message today is to encourage these students to consider going to college after high school. We share our campus with other colleges because we want the seniors to have a good chance to learn about as many schools as they can. And we supply the pizza for lunch," said Meeks.
But perhaps the strongest message of the day came from 2010 Buckeye Local High School graduate John Morris, who, "crashed" the opening remarks by Meeks.
"It was very spontaneous. I saw they were in the lecture hall and on a break. Then I saw the microphone and grabbed it and I told the students Eastern Gateway Community College is a great school to consider. I decided to come here after high school because I didn't have money for college. I applied for the Horizon Grant and signed up for radiology classes. I am scheduled to graduate in May and will be looking for a job," explained Morris.
Meeks was so impressed with Morris she asked him to join her at her scheduled welcoming remarks for each group of students Tuesday.
Live Tweets were scrolling on a screen at the front of the lecture hall.
"This is the first time we have done this. We are encouraging the visiting students to Tweet while they are here to share their college experience," said Meeks.
Matt Townsend and Nick Marshall of the Jefferson County Christian School are both considering attending Cedarville University near Dayton.
"But I came today to hear from other colleges. I hope to be recruited by other colleges and universities," remarked Townsend.
And Marshall wanted to, "check out the other colleges and see what my options are."
"I'm having a great experience today. This is a great chance to prep for college. It's nice to have people here today to help us look at the schools and what we should be considering at this point. I am seriously considering Eastern Gateway Community College and something in the medical field. EGCC is close to home and I will be checking on the Horizon Grant here," stated Lindsay Bodnar, a Toronto High School senior.
Johnna Provenzano of the Academic Affairs Program at EGCC said the annual Consider College Fest was designed to help high school seniors "take their first step on a college campus."
"You would be surprised by the number of seniors who have not yet visited a college campus. And this is a chance to feel the college campus atmosphere, talk to professors and hear from a lot of different schools and what they have to offer," explained Provenzano.
Two seniors from Madonna High School gravitated to the West Virginia University table where WVU admissions counselor Lori Bittner outlined the programs available at the school.
"We have 180 free programs at WVU. And we are a good for students from this area because of the close proximity to Morgantown. And we have a reciprocity agreement for Ohio students who pay in-state tuition rates. I have talked to a lot of area high school students today and look forward to continue talking to them," explained Bittner after asking Breanna Dalfol and Brianna Green, Madonna High School students, to fill out information cards.
"I'm thinking about WVU and their pharmacy school," remarked Dalfol.
"I'm leaning toward a college in Pennsylvania because I am from Burgettstown," Green said.
Franciscan University of Steubenville admissions counselor Susie Weiss was talking to two Toronto High School seniors about the school's commuter grant program.
"I am thinking about majoring in broadcast journalism, so that is what I am looking for," Emily Kosikowski told Weiss.
"We have a very good communications department at Franciscan and I can give you some information about those courses," replied Weiss, who then offered advice to Kaylie Zdinak of Toronto High School.
Jefferson County Joint Vocational School teacher Andrew Connor, who brought 90 JVS seniors, said the Consider College Fest "is ideal because it gives the kids the chance to see what possibilities are in their future. This is a great opportunity for these kids today."
And after learning about colleges and universities and hearing words of advice from a college president, a current EGCC student and 60 admissions counselors, the 800 high school seniors sat down in the school courtyard to eat pizza, listen to a disc jockey and start considering the next step in education.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com)