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GCC, UMass  to star in education awareness program tonight at Mahar

Recorder/Paul Franz
Jay Gonzalez, Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance, talks at a reception held at the newly opened Regional Dog Control and Adoption Center in Montague.  Behind him is Sheriff Chris Donelan and Leslee Colucci of the Sheriff’s Department who will be running the shelter

Recorder/Paul Franz Jay Gonzalez, Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance, talks at a reception held at the newly opened Regional Dog Control and Adoption Center in Montague. Behind him is Sheriff Chris Donelan and Leslee Colucci of the Sheriff’s Department who will be running the shelter Purchase photo reprints »

ORANGE — In an effort to increase interest in and awareness of the state’s public colleges and universities, the state is hosting an informational event tonight for area high school students and their families.

“Go Public” — to be held at Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School, beginning at 7 p.m. — is one of four events organized this fall by the state’s department of higher education.

And as the only one scheduled west of I-495, the event will target central and western Massachusetts high school students. The event is free and open to all.

Administrators from four area schools — Fitchburg State University, Greenfield Community College, Mount Wachusett Community College and the University of Massachusetts — will speak briefly and answer questions about what their colleges can offer students.

And four student speakers — from GCC, Mount Wachusett, Westfield State University and UMass — will share their experiences with high school students in attendance. They will also offer tips on how to best prepare for college.

“We’re launching ‘Go Public’ at a time when many of our campuses are seeing record enrollment gains,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland in a prepared statement. “Our goal with this effort is to make sure that students who look to public higher education are ready for the academic rigor of our programs and are excited about the many opportunities that await them at our campuses across the commonwealth.”

This is the first year of the “Go Public” series. Two events held last month, in Haverhill and Plymouth, drew between 300 and 400 people.

After about an hour of presentations in the auditorium, campus financial aid and Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority representatives will be on hand to meet with students and their families.

And other area colleges will set up informational tables outside the auditorium to talk further about their programs, state officials said.

Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, will host the event and Mahar Superintendent Michael Baldassarre will facilitate the administrator panel discussion.

State officials said the event may be rescheduled if Wednesday’s snow continues into today. Further information, including any postponement, will be posted on the school’s website: http://www.rcmahar.org/.

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