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New college and career center is school hub

Space provides a spot for students to work and study

ROCK FALLS – Even at school, the kitchen table is a central meeting place.

The new college and career center at Rock Falls High School is a hub of activity, counselor Jason Sands said.

It’s a place for students to discuss college applications, scholarships and transcripts, as well as a place for them to meet with college or military representatives or talk with guidance counselors, he said.

“They treat it like their kitchen table. They spread their books out and get to work, just like they’re at home,” Sands said. “It’s a safe, convenient and comfortable place for students to go. It’s a place they know they can go to get resources.”

The center in the main foyer of the school is decorated in the signature black and green of the Rock Falls Rockets. It features oversized work tables, including a bar-style countertop, cushioned chairs and sleek pendant lights. It offers several netbooks, wireless Internet access and cabinets stocked with information.

Nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals donated more than $20,000 to build the meeting space. Their names are displayed on plaques on either side of the center.

The school honored the donors, including the United Way of Whiteside County, the Sterling-Rock Falls Community Trust and the Rock Falls Optimist Club, in a ceremony in the center Thursday afternoon.

“This would not have been possible without you,” Sands told the group.

The new center serves much the same purpose as the guidance office. But the college and career center – with its open layout, ample space and front-and-center location – is more welcoming and more accessible than the behind-doors guidance office, he said.

“I don’t think it’s any different, really,” Sands said. “It’s just a nice place to have. ... The kids are loving it. That space is used every single hour of every single day.”

The center offers students important information at their fingertips – on the Internet, in files and on magnetic boards – on demand; it empowers students, he said.

“It’s really important for kids to know where to go,” Sands said. “We have to lead kids. They take care of the rest on their own.”

The activity in the new space is not limited to discussions about college and careers. Students use it as a work and study space, and staff use it as a meeting place.

“Some students use it to work on assignments for online classes. Some use it during their study hall as a quiet place to finish homework or a test,” Sands said. “We meet as a department out there. We have senior meetings there.”

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