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News Release

Date: December 5, 2005
Media Contact: Steve Simon (Montgomery College), 301-251-7952

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University of Maryland Baltimore County and Montgomery College Partner in New Institute for Global and Cultural Studies at Wheaton High School
Specialized Program Open to Students in the Downcounty Consortium in Fall 2006

The new Institute for Global and Cultural Studies (IGCS) at Wheaton High School will offer an opportunity for students to earn up to 15 college credits before graduating from high school, thanks to Montgomery County Public Schools’ partnerships with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Montgomery College (MC).  This addition to the specialized academy programs currently available at Wheaton High School is designed to connect students to college in new and innovative ways. The program is scheduled to open in the fall of 2006.

Leaders of the partnership institutions gathered at Wheaton High School on December 5 to announce the new venture, which has been two years in the making.  They include Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, president of UMBC; Dr. Charlene R. Nunley, president of MC; Mrs. Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education; and Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. They were joined by Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who serves on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

While other academy programs at Wheaton are science and technology oriented, the IGCS will respond to the academic needs of students whose interests include fields such as journalism, international relations, history, and human rights. It is a particularly good fit for the highly diverse student population in the consortium schools, where many of the students will be the first in their family to attend college.

“The IGCS is a wonderful opportunity for any student, but particularly for those whose families are new to the college application process and experience,” said Dr. Weast.  “This program will open up a whole new world to these students, and I thank our two partner institutions for making this possible.”

“This new Institute provides balance to the science and technology academies already offered at Wheaton,” said Mrs. O’Neill. “It capitalizes on the richness of student diversity, and students will have a tremendous amount of life experience and cultural history to share.”

Students enrolled in the IGCS will be able to explore global and cultural issues from multiple perspectives while being introduced to the opportunities provided by college and university education. The focus will be on learning about different cultures through world studies, fine arts, technology, and foreign language study, some of which will be available through credit courses at the college level.

Teachers also will benefit from the program, which will provide ways for secondary and higher education faculty to exchange ideas and experiences. Faculty from all three institutions will engage in planning together, as well as co-teaching. Indeed, faculty members are already working jointly on the development of the e-portfolios that will be used to document and measure student success.

“The partnership represented by the new Institute for Global and Cultural Studies is an ideal fit for UMBC," said Dr. Hrabowski. "We are proud of the students who have come to the University from both Montgomery College and the Montgomery County Public Schools, and this initiative makes it possible for students, including those at Wheaton High, to accelerate their college experience."

IGCS students will participate in specialized research projects, summer enrichment experiences, and courses on learning strategies. They will travel to college campuses and benefit from added support from mentors and tutors. The Institute’s rigorous program will provide a series of college classes for juniors and seniors held at Wheaton High School and taught by professors from the partner institutions. High school students will be able to earn as many as 15 college credits before graduation from high school. Summer college residency programs for students entering their senior year in high school also will be among the offerings of this unique partnership.

Students who complete the program successfully and who meet admissions requirements will be guaranteed admission to UMBC and MC.

“Access to higher education is the single-most empowering advantage a young person can have in today’s world,” said Dr. Nunley. “We’re pleased to work together with the school system and UMBC to bring to Wheaton High School a program that will help to ensure more students will, ultimately, attend and succeed in college.”

“Education is the great equalizer, and we want to give all students the opportunity to succeed.  That is why I have always put education first,” said Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.  “I salute everyone involved in developing this important educational bridge between our two regions.”

The Institute is one of the specialized programs available to students in the Downcounty Consortium, which includes Montgomery Blair, John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Northwood, and Wheaton high schools. Prospective students are being introduced to the program this year, so that they will be prepared to decide whether it is the best match for their talents and interests when the program opens in the upcoming school year.

“I applaud the efforts of the leaders who have worked to make this partnership a reality,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen. “This is the kind of collaboration that students need to prepare them to compete in our increasingly competitive global economy.”

Consortium Grade 8 students have the opportunity to select Wheaton High School as one of five high school choices.  Preparation for IGCS enrollment actually begins in middle school following students’ choice of Wheaton High School, where students in the second semester of eighth grade will be introduced to the college campus setting and encouraged to plan their academic program with college in mind. If they choose to enroll in the IGCS in their freshman year at Wheaton, they will begin a pathway of courses and experiences that will prepare them for the college-level courses offered in their junior and senior years.

More information about the IGCS is available on the Web at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/wheatonhs/academy/IGCS/IGCSWeb.htm or by calling Shauna Brown, head of the program, at 301-929-2050.

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