Get into the mix with MATechMC

Marquette-Alger Technical Middle College produces first graduates
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — The first ever cohort of the Marquette-Alger Technical Middle College has been recognized.
A cohort is defined as “a group of people banded together or treated as a group.”
That term definitely can be applied to the Class of 2017, which was honored Monday at a graduation ceremony at the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency.
Brian Sarvello, Career Technical Education and Middle College director, explained the concept of the Middle College.
“Beginning in their junior year of high school, they get a chance to take a mix of high school and college classes, working toward an eventual associate’s degree,” Sarvello said.
In MATechMC’s case, students pursue only two-year vocational degrees at Northern Michigan University, he said.
The Middle College is unique in at least one way.
“Some Middle Colleges will only allow students that meet dual enrollment requirements,” Sarvello said, with those requirements including a certain grade point average or SAT score. “That wasn’t the case with us. We accept all students.”
Each student applies as a sophomore, and then undergoes a two-step interview process to be accepted into the program.
MARESA Superintendent Deb Veiht said that four years ago, Sarvello came to her with the idea of having a Middle College in Marquette, telling her it would be a perfect fit.
“We have to pick the best students in our first cohort because you are setting the standard for everyone,” Veiht told the class.
Sarvello credited NMU with “in essence” giving scholarships by reducing tuition for Middle College students
Cliffs Natural Resources also provided the initial grant for MATechMC, with Eagle Mine donating $100,000 a year.
One of the graduates was Jessica Barber, a student at Marquette Senior High School, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in surgical technology.
For Barber, being a Middle College participant wasn’t a solo effort.
“I learned how to be a leader and work with others,” Barber said. “You don’t have to be a leader on your own.”
The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Diane Jarvi, MATechMC transition coordinator, who addressed the crowd via video.
“Think about where you were then, where you were in your life, where you were in your academics, and how you felt about what we were doing,” Jarvi said. “I don’t think anybody had any idea about what this journey was going to be like. There were challenges along the way, and you met each and every one of them.”
They put in a ton of hours and earned credit, increased their grade point averages and even made it through calculus — all with flying colors, she said.
Sarvello wants to see the Middle College continue for the long term.
“This a model that worked for 10 people, but this is a model that can work for every single one of our high school students,” Sarvello said.
The graduates are:
≤ Jessica Barber, MSHS, who graduated with a 3.917 GPA and earned 60 credits at NMU.
≤ Paige Barber, MSHS, a trained electrocardiographer at UP Health System-Marquette.
≤ Caitlin Carter, MSHS, who earned a 3.68 GPA and plans to study acupuncture.
≤ Zachary Carter, MSHS, who earned a welding certificate from NMU and plans to complete an associate degree in industrial maintenance at NMU.
≤ Micah Johnson, Negaunee High School, who earned an associate degree in industrial maintenance from NMU where he also earned a welding certificate. His work experiences includes helping with the construction of the statue outside the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Hame and Museum in Ishpeming.
≤ Hailey Lancour, MSHS, Health Occupations Students of America president her senior year, who has been accepted to the NMU nursing program.
≤ James Mallos, MSHS, holder of an NMU welding certificate and co-founder and ambassador of the Huron Mountain Rod Company. He plans to obtain his Colorado fly fishing guide certification.
≤ Preston Marchant, MSHS, who obtained a chauffeur license and plans to earn a bachelor of science degree in chemistry at NMU.
≤ Derek Rogers, Negaunee High School, who holds a welding certificate from NMU and began full-time work at K2 Insulation in Negaunee.
≤ Jordan Simula, MSHS, whose goal is earning a bachelor of science degree in clinical laboratory science/microbiology at NMU. He also graduated from school with high achievement.
The late Cody Revord, an MSHS student who died in 2015 at age 17 following a snowboarding accident, was honored as well as the “11th member” of the first Middle College cohort.
“Cody was the poster child for the Middle College,” Sarvello said. “He embodied everything we look for in a student.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is