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Calvin Readies for STEP Conference
posted May 16, 2007

From 3 pm on Friday, June 15-when they move into the Calvin College residence halls-through the conclusion of the 11:30 am worship service on Sunday, June 17, 100-plus seventh through 10th graders from all over West Michigan will be having their first real-life college experience.

The deadline for STEP registration is Friday, May 18. The deadline for late registration is Friday, June 1. To register, contact the Office of Pre-College Programs at

It's called the Striving Toward Educational Possibilities (STEP) conference, and it's been going on at Calvin for 14 years.

STEP is a three-day potpourri of classes, workshops and fun activities all focused on encouraging children who attend core city churches and schools in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland and Kalamazoo to pursue post-high school education.

"We're trying to expose students to college life in three days, essentially," says Amy Maffeo, the program coordinator for the Calvin office of Pre-College Programs and the organizer of STEP. We're giving them a taste of residence life, academic life and just all-around student life."

STEP attendees live in Calvin dorms-under the supervision of resident assistants-and attend their choice of biology, psychology, literature, language or other classes.

They also attend "Expressions" workshops in music, art, video production, dance and journalism as well as a session on prepping for the ACT.

And they have a lot of fun, roller skating, playing broom ball and just hanging out.

The theme of the 2007 conference is "How can you have wings and not fly?"

Says Maffeo: "The idea of STEP, is that every student has potential, and our goal is to discover that potential and help the student to use it."

The conference brackets a critical age group, she says.

"Those are the pivotal years for academic success. For instance, research has showed that ninth grade is a very critical year. Students who fail classes in their ninth year of high school are more likely drop out of college. Hopefully after the conference, they will see college as a possibility for them, and they will have the tools to engage in the college entry process."

This is Maffeo's first year as the STEP coordinator, and she's already excited about the educational possibilities.

"We have some good classes, good expressions workshops, some really strong resident assistants. I'm really excited," she says. "I'm nervous because it's my first one, and it's hard being a newbie. But I'm really excited to be around the students, and I know that the work we're doing is important. STEP is important."

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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