The Hamilton Fulton Montgomery Pathways in Technology Early College High School (HFM PTECH) celebrated its first students to complete the program with a ceremony and banquet Sunday, July 24, at the Holiday Inn.
In September of 2014, the first group of 50 students began their journey in the new 4- to 6-year program. On Sunday, they reminisced about their humble beginnings and marked the accomplishments of the past four years. This spring, 12 students completed the HFM PTECH program, earning their high school diplomas and associate degrees from Fulton Montgomery Community College in four years. Many others in the inaugural class are on track to earn their degrees from FMCC in the next year.
“It feels like just yesterday we all packed in the gym for the first parent night at Jansen Avenue school to talk about all of the possibilities of PTECH,” Principal Mike Dardaris told the crowd of about 170 students, parents, educators and local professionals. “We packed that gym front to back that night, and at that moment, we knew something great was about to happen.”
Dardaris credited the students and their families with taking a leap of faith to not only join a new school, but to build it and blaze a trail for those who would come after them.
“You inspired an entire region. You changed stereotypes and built bridges with businesses and community partners. You started our beloved cities back on the path to reclaim our place amongst the gilded and revered cities that we once held during our glory days,” Dardaris said.
Flor Trespalacios, an instructor and program coordinator of the Health Sciences/Health Studies programs at Fulton Montgomery Community College, was nominated by the students to be the event’s guest speaker. Trespalacios, who had many of the students in her classes at FMCC, said after seeing the students put in so much hard work and determination, she looks forward to hearing about their future successes. “Now it’s time to begin writing a new chapter in your brilliant story,” she said.
She encouraged students to not be afraid of failure. “Celebrate and learn from your mistakes. Some of my greatest successes have come from some of my worst mistakes,” Trespalacios said. “Never stop following your fears. Too often, we run from our fears. Confronting our fears often leads us to beautiful places.”
Student speaker Jasmine Tate, who is among the 12 completing the program, acknowledged the struggles and challenges she and her classmates overcame as they adjusted to a new school culture and project based learning. “It wasn’t always easy working in groups. Sometimes we struggled with clashing personalities, teenage hormonal changes, and having tough projects,” she said.
Tate said being challenged beyond what they thought was possible helped students become successful. “We were literally writing history around us, but to us, we were just rolling with the punches. At PTECH, we learned how to think on our feet,” she said.
Tate thanked her teachers and classmates for being her support system during the times she needed it most and implored her tight-knit group of classmates to remember that they all are “just a phone call away.”
HFM BOCES Deputy Superintendent Lorraine Hohenforst read biographies of each of the 12 students completing the program, and each were given an engraved wooden plaque created in the school’s prototyping lab.
The students completing the program, who come from school districts throughout the HFM region, are: Theresa Clark, Hunter Fifield, Ryan Kamanu, Joshua Licciardo, Mackienzie Longale, Vorachot Lowsuwansiri, Christopher Pikul, Allison Ricci, Katherine Sampere, Jonathan Santiago, Joshua Scott and Jasmine Tate.