Gate­way pro­gram does dou­ble duty

High school stu­dents can take col­lege classes

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Zahn

NEW HAVEN — Just as the na­tion grap­ples with changes be­ing made in the sta­tus of many un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, a class of New Haven stu­dents ru­mi­nated on what that means for peo­ple they know.

“If they’re de­ported, they’ll be home­less,” said Makayla Dawkins, a James Hill­house High School ju­nior who serves as a stu­dent mem­ber of the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Many of her friends are im­mi­grants, she said, and she sees them as no dif­fer­ent from any other teenager.

Dawkins is one of ap­prox­i­mately 12 stu­dents learn­ing about the his­tory of immigration in Amer­ica at Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, with a spe­cific fo­cus on how is­sues of race have echoed through­out the na­tion’s his­tory.

“I would like to say I’m the teacher that gives them a leg up by pro­vid­ing cut­ting edge, con­tem­po­rary per­spec­tive on is­sues they can take to their ev­ery­day lives.” Ad­junct so­ci­olog y pro­fes­sor Darryl Hu­g­ley

For the last seven years, through a part­ner­ship with Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, stu­dents at Hill­house, Co­op­er­a­tive Arts and Hu­man­i­ties High School and New Haven Academy have been able to take a col­lege-level so­ci­ol­ogy course for both high school and col­lege credit that ex­am­ines the his­tory and role of race in Amer­ica.

Donnell Hil­ton, co­or­di­na­tor of the Mid­dle Col­lege pro­gram within Gate­way’s dual-en­roll­ment pro­grams, said stu­dents go through the nor­mal ap­pli­ca­tion process to take cour­ses. Although prin­ci­pals have the fi­nal say to au­tho­rize cour­ses if they line up with credit ar­eas in the high school cur­ricu­lum, stu­dents can elect the cour­ses they want to take. The course ex­am­in­ing Amer­i­can race re­la­tions has been a stu­dent choice ev­ery year.

“This may be a per­spec­tive they don’t get in high school,” Hil­ton said. “They’re not just treated as high school stu­dents.”

Sixty to 75 stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram each se­mes­ter, he said. Stu­dents can ap­ply for cour­ses 15 to 60 days be­fore the se­mes­ter be­gins.

Ad­junct so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Darryl Hu­g­ley ex­am­ines race in his Racial and Eth­nic Di­ver­sity course by dis­cussing cur­rent events, he said.

Re­cently , that meant look­ing at immigration through the lens of the day’s De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals re­newal ex­pi­ra­tion dead­line.

“I would like to say I’m the teacher that gives them a leg up by pro­vid­ing cut­ting edge, con­tem­po­rary per­spec­tive on is­sues they can take to their ev­ery­day lives,” he said.

As stu­dents watched a news re­port of Con­necti­cut State Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties Sys­tem Pres­i­dent Mark Ojakian dis­cussing the pro­ce­dure for deal­ing with raids by immigration au­thor­i­ties, stu­dents lamented the amount of bu­reau­cracy in­volved.

Hu­g­ley shared some other is­sues fac­ing DACA re­cip­i­ents, such as hav­ing ac­cess to em­ployer-pro­vided health care and con­cerns with call­ing the po­lice to re­port mug­gings or do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

In New Haven un­der then-Mayor John DeSte­fano Jr., Hu­g­ley re­minded the class, the city be­gan an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card pro­gram for all city res­i­dents, in­clud­ing those who are un­doc­u­mented. The card is in­tended to al­low ac­cess to cer­tain ser­vices.

Dawkins and oth­ers in the class shared that they have fam­ily mem­bers who are im­mi­grants, some of them only re­ceiv­ing pa­pers re­cently.

“We’re all smart chil­dren,” said Hill­house ju­nior Ashley Har­ris, a Ja­maican im­mi­grant.

Hu­g­ley told the stu­dents that Amer­ica’s his­tory in­cludes a pat­tern of na­tivism and xeno­pho­bia, cit­ing ex­am­ples such as the Chi­nese Ex­clu­sion Act and the Gen­tle­men’s Agree­ment of 1907, which lim­ited immigration of work­ers from Ja­pan, ac­cord­ing to his­tory.com. Immigration was heav­ily re­stricted from places other than north­ern Europe, with white la­bor­ers act­ing out of the fear their jobs may be taken by im­mi­grants, he told the class.

Har­ris said her in­ter­est in the course is be­cause of a de­sire to learn more about the sub­ject .

“I want to learn how it could ben­e­fit me as an im­mi­grant and the his­tory of race in Amer­ica,” she said.

Due to her par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­gram, Hill­house se­nior Ahrtez Moore ex­pects to grad­u­ate from high school with nine col­lege cred­its.

“Hope­fully I can go to a four-year uni­ver­sity,” he said. With nine cred­its, it would save him money by avoid­ing al­most an en­tire se­mes­ter.

Hil­ton par­tic­i­pated in an early col­lege ex­pe­ri­ence him­self.

As a se­nior at Hill­house in 1999, he said he ini­tially planned to en­ter a trade af­ter grad­u­at­ing, un­til he en­rolled in a psy­chol­ogy course at South­ern Con­necti­cut State Uni­ver­sity while still in high school.

“I re­al­ized I be­longed in a class­room,” he said. “That’s why I’m here to­day.”

Hil­ton said the Mid­dle Col­lege is one of six dual en­roll­ment pro­grams run by the col­lege , and he hopes to ex­pand the pro­gram to other high schools in the district.

The Mid­dle Col­lege pro­gram is avail­able for free to stu­dents, with cred­its ap­pear­ing on their tran­scripts. In ad­di­tion to the course on race, stu­dents can take nine other cour­ses in ar­eas such as crim­i­nal jus­tice, psy­chol­ogy, gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and Web de­sign.

Cather­ine Aval­one / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Makayla Dawkins, a ju­nior at James Hill­house High School, answers a ques­tion about immigration dur­ing her so­ci­ol­ogy class in the Mid­dle Col­lege pro­gram at Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege in New Haven.

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