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New Norwalk P-Tech academy christened by Malloy

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Gov. Dannel Malloy gets a reaction Friday after successfully cutting the ribbon for the Norwalk Early College Academy.

NORWALK, Conn. – A select group of Norwalk High School freshmen was given a vow of support from a potential employer Friday along with a visit from Gov. Dannel Malloy.

Malloy performed the ribbon-cutting honors for the new Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) at the morning event, attended by about 10 “NECA scholars” – freshmen who are already on their way to Norwalk Community College (NCC) associates degrees. The freshmen led adults on tours of the facilities whiile their classmates attended classrooms after Stanley Litow of IBM promised them all the help they need.

“We will only be successful as a company if we get the right talent to come to work for us,” said Litow, IBM vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs and president of the IBM Foundation. “We can’t sit back and wait and hope that people are going to be graduating with the right skills to take the kind of jobs that we want to offer them. We need to step up to the plate and help in that process. We need to make sure that students graduate with those skills. We’re not going to be standing by and waiting for you to be successful. We’re going to be with you every step of the way.”

NECA is an academy within Norwalk High School, with 92 students on track to graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate in Applied Science degree from NCC within six years. Enrollment was open to any incoming freshman, with no special tests or screening required for admission.

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From left, Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera chats with NECA scholars Cherish McGill, Bethzaida Taillant and Katrell Clay on Friday in Norwalk High School.

“Once I heard about the opportunity I took it and I was there,” said Cherish McGill, one of the NECA scholars attending the ceremony. Of the workload, she said, “It’s a lot, but I can manage it.”

Katrell Clay said he enrolled because, “I can aim high and everything.” Bethzaida Taillant said, “It’s all new to me, but it’s going very well.”

Litow told them to pass the message along to their classmates: “We hope at some point you’ll come to work for IBM. You’ll have all the right skills,” he said.

NECA is a P-Tech (Pathways in Technology) academy, a concept pioneered by IBM in 2011. Litow said there will be 40 P-Tech schools next across America September.

Malloy said he believed there will be another P-Tech school in Connecticut next year, perhaps more.

“What we are understanding particularly now is that giving students and parents an option is a great thing to do,” Malloy said. “It grabs the students’ excitement, it allows them to pay attention to the subjects that are most exciting and most invigorating to them, and I can’t think of a model that’s better at doing that than P-Tech. I can’t think of a better place to begin this program than Norwalk.”

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