‘Knock out hunger’ food drive is Coon Rapids students goal

A group of Coon Rapids High School students did their best to “knock out hunger” Saturday morning.

College Possible students leave Coon Rapids High School Saturday morning to collect canned goods from neighboring residents as part of a Make a Difference national service day project.

College Possible students leave Coon Rapids High School Saturday morning to collect canned goods from neighboring residents as part of a Make a Difference national service day project.

The members of the high school’s College Possible program, which is designed to make college admission and success possible for low-income students, took part in a national Make a Difference Day project.

They met at the high school before spending 90 minutes going door-to-door collecting canned goods from residents in neighborhoods adjacent to the school either side of Northdale Boulevard.

Flyers were distributed to homes in the neighborhoods beforehand by the students, alerting residents to the food drive.

The canned food drive by the Coon Rapids High School students was part of a larger event put on by the College Possible program for the Make a Difference national service day.

Once the cans had been collected and bagged, the Coon Rapids students headed for the Minneapolis Sports Center for a rally celebrating service and an organization-wide fund-raising competition.

Over 600 juniors and 500 seniors from 19 participating high schools, including 44 from Coon Rapids, took part in the program Oct. 27.

The non-perishable food items collected have been donated to the Emergency Food Shelf Network.

According to Lauren Peffley, College Possible coach at Coon Rapids High School with Chris Stoltenberg, this is the fourth year of the after-school program at CRHS.

There are 34 seniors and 40 juniors signed up for the program this year, Peffley said.

“Last school year 35 College Possible students were part of the 2012 CRHS graduating class and 94 percent have gone on to college,” she said.

The students in the program, who meet after school for two hours at a time twice a week, are from low-income families and in most cases, have no family members who have attended college in this country, Peffley said.

If the students come from immigrant families, a family member may have attended college in their home country, but that is very different from going to college in the U.S., she said.

In their junior year, College Possible students work with their coach to prepare for the ACT test, while in the senior year the focus turns to the college admission process, college visits and scholarship applications, according to Peffley.

The average ACT score from College Possible students is 27 and she has seen scores jump from 11 to 24 after the coaching sessions, Peffley said.

Peffley is in her second year as coach at CRHS.

In her first year, she coached the juniors; now she is coaching last year’s juniors as seniors, she said.

“I’ve really seen them grow and succeed in the program,” Peffley said.

“There has been a definite change and it’s awesome.”

Launched in 2000, College Possible Twin Cities serves 8,600 low-income high school and college age students through its college access and completion programs.

Nationwide, College Possible’s award-winning model serves nearly 12,000 Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin students in 2012-13 with plans to reach 20,000 students annually in 10 locations across the country by 2020.

According to a recent Harvard study, the program more than doubles a student’s chances of enrolling in college.

More information can be found at www.CollegePossible.org.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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