Middle School Students Take First Steps on Their Journey to College

Six graders at Paul Cuffee school view a mock hospital room

Sixth graders tour a mock hospital room at RIC’s School of Nursing.

College may seem like a long way off when you’re not yet a teenager, but Paul Cuffee Middle School students start the college process early. Not by filling out forms and writing essays, but by participating in school events designed to inspire their hopes and dreams.

Recently all 180 middle schoolers piled onto buses and departed for four local higher education institutions for College Day. Sixth graders went to Rhode Island College (RIC) and seventh graders divided between Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Eighth graders visited the University of Rhode Island (URI), the school where the most Cuffee graduates have enrolled. Besides having lunch, which is an important stop for kids learning about the college experience, eighth graders joined in a fundraising activity that involved water, balloons, and wet students. The eighth graders ended the day with a question and answer session with Cuffee alumni attending URI. Eighth grader Damani Ramirez, summing up the day, proclaimed URI “fun and amazing.”

Seventh graders Alondra Cruz and Alyssa Rosario study an exhibit in RISD’s nature lab.

For the middle schoolers, College Day is a tangible reminder that they are on a very viable path to getting a college degree. This can be a revelation for the many students who are the first in their families even to consider attending college.

The day continues to evolve to meet students’ needs. According to Dean of Students George Albuquerque, plans for next year’s College Day include expanding the variety and number of colleges visited and dividing the classes into smaller groups for a more personalized experience.


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%