By Rachel Mai
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – Some high school seniors from the Gloucester and Pennsauken technical schools are skipping their last year of high school and jumping right into their freshman year of college at Camden County College.

The Senior Option Program enables seniors from the Gloucester Township and Pennsauken campuses of the Camden County Technical Schools to attend Camden County College as full-time students. The program has 94 students, says Lisa Lord, the program manager and counselor for the Senior Option Program.

The students take classes and receive books are at no cost. Students can earn 12 to 15 college credits each semester and must take four classes, according to the program’s orientation literature.

Luis Cancel, a senior in the pre-engineering program from CCTS in Gloucester Township, says senior option students have a reserved spot on the college’s Blackwood campus. He describes it as “the fishbowl, come in, hang out and do homework.” The room, which is outside the bookstore in the community center on the Blackwood campus, gets its name because three glass walls form the room.

Moni Thach, a carpentry senior from CCTS in Pennsauken, says he feels disconnected from high school and misses pep rallies but “at the end of the day I’m doing what’s best for me.” Thach says he enjoys CCC Professor Sondi Lee’s business law class. “She’s the best. I wish I had her every day,” Thach says.

Elyssa Exclusa, a senior in the information technology program at CCTS in Gloucester Township, says she has no complaints about the program. She adds she particularly enjoys the art and video game designs. Also, she says, “I like that I can customize my schedule. I like the support whenever I need it.”

Justin Barnes, a pre-engineering senior from CCTS in Gloucester Township, says he plans to come back for a second year at CCC and move on to the New Jersey Institute of Technology for mechanical engineering. Barnes offers advice to other high school students – “I would not recommend the program to people who don’t want to take school seriously, like don’t have plans to take up a degree.”

Lord describes the technical schools’ relationship with CCC as “fantastic.” She says the favorite part of her job is guiding students on their college journey. “From drama to heartache to happiness to college acceptance to things going on in their lives, I mean it’s a rollercoaster but in a good way.”

She says she plans to try to open the program to other school districts.

Pennsauken technical school students Marck Peña (left) and Moni Thach (right) sit in the Senior Option Program director’s office. By Rachel Mai, CCC Journalism Program

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