Johnson College Prep “Trunk Party” Prepares Alum for College

Every summer, Johnson College Prep, throws a “Trunk Party” as part of their program for encouraging and counseling alumni who are now college students. This event is not only for their recent graduates, but every alumni attending college, because like all Noble schools, JCP tracks, supports, and encourages their college student alumni.

At the Trunk Party, alumni have the opportunity to come back to their high school and see their favorite teachers, attend college preparedness sessions focused on time management, financial aid, and choosing a major, while participating in a raffle for college dorm supplies. This year, the raffled dorm supplies were donated by Com Ed employees, Johnson College Prep faculty members, and their Alumni Board. These college necessities ranged from laundry detergent and bedding, to a microwave and laptop.

During the raffle, the energy in the room was tangible. Students sat on the edges of their seats scanning their tickets checking the numbers to see if they were the next lucky winner. Tierica Coleman, a 2015 graduate of JCP currently attending Georgetown University, won a set of towels at the raffle. She says, “Events like this one prepare students for college not only through the sessions, but  because they provide even the small things, like towels and detergent — things you might take for granted at home, but you will need in college.” As an incoming junior, she is well aware of the supplies she needs living away from home, and was thrilled with her prize.

Diante Dancy, a 2017 graduate of JCP, won a microwave at the raffle. Dancy will be attending Trinity College this fall, where he received a Posse Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship. Dancy attributes his ability to get this scholarship to his experience at JCP. “When I was younger, I didn’t usually do my homework, but when I got to JCP, the rules were strict and we were expected to follow them. I had to adjust to these higher standards and it’s really helped me in the long run,” Dancy explains.

Angelique Hines, an incoming senior at Hope College, and 2014 JCP graduate, thanks JCP for her discipline. “JCP prepared me for college much more than I thought it would have. A lot of students don’t have discipline. I sat in class and watched students talk over professors or using their phones, and in learning to be respectful, pay attention, and take notes in high school, I don’t have those troubles in the classroom. I think the discipline I learned at JCP is what has kept me in college thus far,” Hines elaborates.

Time management is another virtue students credit JCP for teaching. DeAndre Brown, a 2015 graduate of JCP, is a junior at Emery University with plans to attend medical school after graduation. He says, “In college, you have a lot of free time – you may not have homework every day. JCP really pushed time management throughout high school with nightly homework. They expected a lot of us, but we had guidance. When I got to college, I realized how important that quality was in being truly prepared for college.”

Catherine Zimmer, Johnson College Prep’s Dean of College Counseling explains, “We have a college counseling program where every senior at Johnson has a college counselor who is helping them with applications, their FAFSA, or any kind of paperwork.  Then, we have alumni coordinators, so when the students leave our building, they’re not done with the college counseling experience; they have a dedicated in-building professional, who will help them with anything. We like to support them not just to college, but all the way through. So, it’s a really unique system.”

And JCP’s program is growing. In July 2017, the school hired two Alumni Coordinators, Chivon Ford and Keila Lacy. Ford explains how they help students, “We are in charge of helping our students matriculate into college and persist through college, and that can look like a lot of things. For our freshmen, that looks like getting them there in the first place, for our returners, it means getting them back, and sometimes for our students that are struggling, that looks like working with them to determine how to best support them.” Lacy adds, “What students find most helpful is having someone there to help them in the way an adviser would, just more personalized. I get told students appreciate help picking out classes – which ones they would enjoy most, and are best for their education.”

Tierica Coleman expresses her gratitude for JCP’s college counseling program, “Johnson gave me the idea that college can really be my reality. I knew that college existed, but they provided me with the tools and resources I needed to apply to schools like Georgetown, and get accepted. And they’re still involved – my support system is still here if I ever need them, I can just give them a call. So, I want to say that Johnson provides that community where I feel like I’m always welcome back and I know if I reach out and I need anything, they will help me in a heartbeat.”