Who We Are
The West Point Association of Graduates and local leaders formed Success Academy, a grass-roots community group of political, business, social services, civil society, and education leaders, to provide advice and assistance to the recently created Hudson Valley Project. Success Academy’s informal but influential community leaders supported an approach that viewed the Highland Falls Intermediate School (HFIS) as a tipping point that offers an opportunity to have a considerable positive affect on the educational and social enrichment of the community.
Working in partnership, the West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG) and the Highland Falls Intermediate School created CONNECT to provide students in the community high-quality learning experiences that support their academics and expand their interests in a real-world, fun, exciting, and safe environment.
CONNECT began with a pilot phase and a broad curriculum characterized by fitness, health, nutrition, and recreation (Sports and Discipline), STEM (Drones and Robotics), the community (Walk of Highland Falls Village), and culture, music, and dance (Capoeira Movement and Music). CONNECT has now grown to a full-time, 5 day a week program beginning September 6, 2022 with increasing focus on academic support, active learning, school day attendance, safety, adult supervision, support for working families, nutrition and physical activity, sports leagues and competition, and community offerings such as part time jobs, apprenticeships, internships, and mentorships.
Of note is that important lessons surfaced in the CONNECT pilot program which helped shape the full-time outside-of-school-time CONNECT program. For instance, COVID was stressful for all students and had a clear negative effect on growth and learning. The CONNECT program is timely in that it is helping rebuild social and emotional learning (SEL) skills lost in the remote learning of recent years. Similarly, students were considerably less active during the COVID period and CONNECT’s strong focus on activity and recreation addresses that need.
Another effect of COVID and shortcoming of distance education is that students are in significant need of mentors to revitalize social interaction learning. With the support of the United States Military Academy (USMA) staff, CONNECT has routinely included USMA Cadets and mentors for HFIS students. A common characteristic of Cadets entering West Point today is the value they place on community service. This value complements the mentoring need in adolescent learners, enriches Cadet engagement and participation in the development of local communities, and is viewed as fundamental skills for future military leaders. Today, local leaders are pleased to see their calls for increased Cadet engagement with the community being answered and the CONNECT program has become a popular opportunity for Cadet community engagement and a respected sign of USMA-Highland Falls cooperation.
CONNECT is an out of school time program with the purpose of providing learning opportunities to students of the Highland Falls Intermediate School. CONNECT is a result of a partnership between the Highland Falls and Fort Montgomery Central School District and the West Point Association of Graduates. Our vision is to provide Highland Falls Intermediate School students high-quality experiences that support their academics and expand their interests. Our intent is to create the capability for students to learn and apply their learning in real-world contexts that are exciting and fun. We are mindful of the fundamental need to provide students a safe and friendly sanctuary after school. Therefore, the CONNECT program is characterized by individual attention, assistance by adult and youth mentors, nutritional support, and physical activity.
CONNECT aims to provide a positive adolescent learning environment that enhances students social, emotional, physical, and academic development; reduces risky behavior; promotes health; and provides a safe and supportive post-school environment. CONNECT incorporates three fundamental aspects into each day: a snack and nutrition instruction; a leader/mentor champion who inspires; and physical activity and recreation.
CONNECT was formed as a partnership of the West Point Association of Graduates and the Highland Falls Intermediate School. Since its founding this partnership has grown…
CONNECT is thankful for the support from the United States Military Academy’s Center for Diversity and Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CLD STEM). The West Point CLD STEM program provides monthly inspiring STEM activities to our CONNECT students.
CONNECT is proud to also include in partnership the Education Department at Mount Saint Mary College and the Mount Saint Mary College’s Center for Adolescent Research and Development (CARD). Mount Saint Mary College faculty and students provide indispensable instruction and mentoring support to our CONNECT students.