DANBURY, Conn. -- The deadline is approaching for eighth-graders to enter a lottery for a program that will allow them to earn an associate's degree for free while they are students at Danbury High School.
The new program, called the Danbury Early College Opportunity, offers a degree in information technology from Naugatuck Valley Community College.
DECO will accept 100 students in this fall’s class through a lottery system. The lottery is open until Friday, April 10. To apply to the program, visit the website for the school system and click the link for Danbury Early College Opportunity on the right side.
“We provide more to our students than our neighbors,” Superintendent Sal Pascarella said at a meeting on the program. “When our students leave here, they have an idea of what they want to do. And it is not by chance that we offer these opportunities - it is through a lot of hard work.”
Students will find out the results of the lottery by the end of April.
"The 60 college credits are free, paid for by this program. What parent of a student wouldn’t like to save $8,000 of higher education costs," said Richard Jannelli, a member of the Danbury Board of Education.
As DECO students approach the college-level work during their sophomore or junior years, certain courses may overlap as fulfilling requirements for both the high school and the college programs. Some college courses will be taught by qualified Danbury HIgh faculty while other courses will be taught by faculty at NVCC at the high school or the college’s Danbury campus. The program takes four to six years to complete, at which time a student will have a Danbury High diploma and an associate's degree from NVCC.
NewOak Managing Director Yuri Yoshizawa said the curriculum for the program is useful for getting jobs.
“It is designed to provide students with the ability to be hired anywhere,” she said. “It’s preparing students for the real world."
The program requirements, in addition to 21 credits for the high school diploma, are 60 credits at NVCC. Students who do not finish the program will still be able to transfer some of the credits later.
Every student will also be paired with an industry mentor who will correspond regularly in person and electronically.
Students who excel academically may take AP and honors classes while participating in DECO. Students are encouraged, but not mandated, to complete the program while at Danbury High. There will be no cost to complete the associate's degree program upon graduation from high school. The program takes five years to complete with some attendance at NVCC required after graduation.
For questions on DECO or the lottery application process, contact DHS assistant principal Dan Donovan at 203-797-4842.
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