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Cougars & Mustangs 

I’m not entirely sure if this was true for everyone, but in my experience, middle school was a tremendously awkward transitional phase in my educational career. I began to understand more about my interests, have further opportunities to act upon them, get a better sense overall of who my friends were, but there were such weird feelings and interactions, and it was hard to keep afloat above the general inconsistency of it all. In other words, it was a period that, if properly utilized, could inspire tremendous growth, but which, if left to its own devices, sorta flopped about pathetically, wondering what happened to its decorative blue rocks and plastic castle.

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Well, the Central Coast Center for Arts Education at Cal Poly (CCCAE) and the YMCA Youth Institute are collaborating for three years to provide Laguna Middle School with a technological arts-based after-school and summer program. The program, which begins this summer for sixth- through eighth-grade students, involves CCCAE donating at least $10,000 to help begin a Youth Institute in San Luis Obispo to teach students the basics of graphic design, how to create films, and how to produce magazines. The mission of the Youth Institute is to brew within students a desire to complete high school, attend a four-year institution, and seek scholarships. This San Luis Obispo branch was born of a successful pilot program in Cambria; the originating program was directed by Cal Poly liberal studies alumnus Dan Hartzell, who returns to direct this program as well.

If we’re being totally realistic here, the chances of me still holding the reins of this column by the time the initiates in this program make it to their collegiate campuses seems reasonably uncertain. Despite this, I’m no less excited about what may come out of these early, creative, technical boosts. As an aspiring artist and columnist of advice no one in particular actually asks for, I understand how vital opportunities like that are for distillation of passion, talent, and technique. Summer is here, and it’s a dish best served with those kinds of sauces that open your mind in the best ways possible. Many students deciding to remain in town over their break are probably all too aware of how off the hook one isn’t during summer—yes, you can relax from studies, but then it’s time to find a job and plan next semester and not lose your job once you’ve found it. ... Wherever you may be on your journeys, dear readers, I wish you the best of luck.

Contributor Chris White-Sanborn got lost on the way to her summer vacation and ended up here. ... You may as well send collegiate news to cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com; she’s not going anywhere.

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