NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has announced that nearly 1,200 local sixth grade students will visit college campuses across the Berkshires from April 10 to 13, for the 11th Annual Berkshire County Goes to College Day, sponsored by The Berkshire Compact for Education and MCLA.

This year, MCLA will host students from Lee, Lenox, Farmington River and Richmond schools, as well as Undermountain Elementary School in Sheffield, on Monday, April 10. On Tuesday, April 11, students from Monument Valley and Nessacus Regional middle schools in Great Barrington and Dalton will visit the College.

Students will arrive at 9:45 a.m. and attend sessions at 10, 10:30 and 11 a.m., before they gather in Venable Gym at 11:30 for a wrap up of the morning’s activities.

During 20-minute sessions held from 9:45 a.m. to noon on at MCLA, the students will engage in a wide variety of activities. This will include a tour of a residence hall, learning how to use equipment in the television studio, learning about world cultures, watching physics and planetarium demonstrations, going on an interactive tour of the training room and observing chemistry experiments.

According to Denise Richardello, executive vice president at MCLA, the Berkshire County Goes to College initiative continues to be a milestone experience for the region’s youth.

“By introducing these sixth grade students to life on campus, we are helping them to understand the steps they need to take to attend college,” Richardello said. “We hope they will be inspired to explore their options for the future, as they continue on their path to higher education.”

In addition to MCLA, students will visit Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Williams College on Thursday, April 13.

Simon’s Rock will host students from the Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield; BCC will host students from Greylock Elementary School in North Adams and Reid Middle School in Pittsfield; and Williams College will welcome students from Abbott Memorial School in Florida, Hoosac Valley Middle School and BART in Adams, and Clarksburg and Hancock schools.

The “Berkshire County Goes to College” initiative is part of the Berkshire Higher Education Passport – a plan to help improve access to a college education.  It provides the opportunity for every sixth-grade student in the County to visit a local college campus in April, and is part of an effort to raise awareness and aspiration of college in Berkshire County residents at an early age.

These sixth grade college visits are funded through a grant from Berkshire United Way.

The Berkshire Compact for Education was developed to address the higher education needs of Berkshire County residents and employers. The Compact is comprised of members from key area employment sectors, including cultural institutions, finance, healthcare and specialty manufacturing, along with school superintendents, college administrators and faculty, municipal officials and representatives of nonprofit organizations.

For more information about “Berkshire County Goes to College Day,” contact Sue Doucette, project coordinator, Berkshire Compact for Education,

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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