Conard Wins Award for AP Boot Camp

The program was one of two regional $5,000 grant winners in the College Board's 2013 'CollegeKeys Compact Innovation' Awards.

The AP Boot Camp program launched in West Hartford at Conard High School last summer will now be expanded thanks to the receipt of a $5,000 grant from the College Board.

"It's a big deal for us," said Conard Principal Dr. Peter Cummings, who learned of the award this week. He said that the $5,000 will be used to extend the support provided by the boot camp throughout the school year.

Conard was one of two regional winners of the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center's "2013 CollegeKeys Compact Innovation Awards." According to a release from the College Board, just 14 awards will be given out in total across the country.

"This award affirms the dedication, creativity and commitment of Conard faculty to ensure equity and opportunity for every student. I applaud the initiative that went into designing the program and the effort made to seek outside funding and recognition for the AP Boot Camp," said West Hartford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen List.

Conard's award was in the category of "Getting Ready," and the College Board selected grant recipients based on several criteria and "their innovation and demonstrated efficacy in increasing the percentage of low-income students who get ready for, get into or get through college successfully." Other categories were "Getting In" and "Getting Through."

“Guided by the College Board’s principles of excellence and equity in education, the Advocacy & Policy Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond,” said Christen Pollock, Vice President, College Board Advocacy & Policy Center in a news release.

Families United in Educational Leadership in Boston was the other program in the region to be awarded a grant, for "Helping Parents Propel Their Children toward Higher Education" in the "Getting In" category.

Cummings said that Conard put together the boot camp to "meet the needs of our students." The five-day program was attended last summer by approximately 80 incoming sophomores, juniors, and seniors who planned to take Advanced Placement classes during the 2012-2013 academic year.

It was open to all Conard students, regardless of background, Cummings said.

"For all students, we've found that it helps reflect upon and strengthen skills, and has led them to be able to go deeper into their classes," he said. The program focused on embedding core skils in the AP class curriculum – study, critical reading, and organizational skills.

The grant will allow the program to continue to operate during the school year, on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, to reinforce the skills and intervene when students may be struggling.

While not the intent of the program, Cummings thinks that some of the skills emphasized in AP Boot Camp, such as critical reading, may cross over into SAT preparation.

"One of the things that is really nice [about receiving the award] is to have our faculty recognized for their commitment to student achievement," said Cummings.

Conard also plans to hold AP Boot Camp again this summer, and students at all grade levels will be eligible.

List said that planning is in place to start a similar program at Hall.


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