SM North Juniors help 8th graders prepare for college


Logging into Webex, Juniors Ore Oni and Samantha Morinville are getting ready to help a group of about 20 eighth graders, recruited by teachers and counselors, prepare for their future.

The Core cap program helps eighth graders at all the middle schools in the district, prepare for high school and college.

“It [the program] came in mind over the summer, and it actually started off as a different idea where we wanted to help high schoolers, however we realized that they are too far in high school that they are not going to want our help,” Morinville said. “So we were like OK we’ll start with eighth graders because that’s when they need the most help before high school, and that’s when we can start changing lives.”

The program with things that students might have to do on their own, such as building a college list and making a 4-year plan.

“Essentially we help the eighth graders build interpersonal skills, academic readiness, career readiness, explore their interests, and teach them different things that people don’t talk about, like career exploration and study skills,” Oni said.

The ultimate goal of the program is to help students get into the colleges that they want to go to.

“We just hope to get them ready for high school, and later college, so that they can apply to top tier schools knowing that like it’s a great thing that I started early, it’s a great thing that I started in eighth grade,” Morinville said.

Although Covid-19 made them rethink their approach, they stayed strong to make sure students got the help they needed.

“Right now we’re doing the program virtually since there’s no in person, and it’s an easier way to gather all five schools rather than having people come from long distances come to a location,” Oni said.

They are hoping things change for next year.

“However next year we plan to have it in person if possible,” Morinville said.

Like all the other clubs and activities at SM North, the students needed a sponsor, so English teacher Natalie Johnson-Berry stepped up to help.

“Ore and Samantha have done all the work,” Johnson-Berry said. “I sponsor other clubs that they’re a part of and I decided that this one sounded like they were fulfilling a need, they were fulfilling a gap.”

The program is pretty new, and eighth grade is a long way from college, but the girls already see some success.

“We just started the program and I’m already seeing that students are more confident,” Johnson-Berry said. “Students seem to have a better idea of how to prepare for like what classes to sign up for, they’re already thinking about things for college, even if they are not going to college they’re thinking about careers.”

Since the program is still in its early stages they are keeping it to a confined group, but as the program grows there might be opportunities for North students to get involved.