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Course offerings bring college credits to campus

Published 8/28/2012 in Special Sections : GCHS

Students have more options for college courses in new building.

By SHAJIA AHMAD

sahmad@gctelegram.com

Garden City High School students can look forward to taking more classes for college credit right in their own building.

Starting this academic year, at least eight new courses will be taught by high school instructors at the new building, 2720 Buffalo Way Blvd., so students can concurrently earn high school and college credit with a passing grade.

The partnership between Garden City High School and Garden City Community College is not new.

At least one or two courses — Introduction to Computer Concepts and Working With Children — have been popular among many students at the old facility, with more than 100 students enrolling in the courses each year for the past two academic years, according to Erinn Reyes, an outreach program coordinator at GCCC.

With so many new courses being taught on-site at the new high school, the opportunities to get ahead on college coursework abound, Reyes said.

Enrollment in the college courses at the high school has jumped from about 100 students annually to about 330 this academic year, for those students who are taking advantage of the new, on-site courses, according to Reyes.

"Essentially, from last year, we only had one subject offered. Now, in addition to that class, we've got English, math, sociology, psychology, entrepreneurship which is business-based ... speech, (and) government," Reyes said. "We're hoping the kids will stay around the area and come (to GCCC), but some of them who get scholarships and opportunities to go elsewhere such as K-State or KU or any other institutions, then they've got this college credit already under their belt."

The textbooks, syllabi and other course materials for the on-site classes are the same as those taught at the college's campus, as well, according to the GCCC official.

Tracy Newell, a lead associate principal at GCHS, said the desire to keep the campus as closed as possible in the new building was part of the reason the administration decided to increase the number and range of on-site courses available to students.

"One of our goals was to improve attendance, and the college courses fit into that," he said. "We have (students) taking anywhere from one class to five classes this semester, and some of our seniors are taking 15 hours of college credit on our campus. ... It's not our objective to replace the college — not at all. It's our objective to help our students get that credit."

Of the 350 or so courses taken at the college campus by high school students in the last academic year, more than two-thirds of them were core subject classes that are similar or the same to the new core subject courses at the new high school campus, according to Newell.

That move from the college campus to the high school has nearly doubled enrollment in those subjects, from a total of 232 classes taken across the curriculum on the college campus last year to 417 classes being taught at the high school this academic year. The principal did not have exact student figures to release.

"I think there's several variables in this. Some of our kids didn't have access to transportation before. Some of them, their parents might not have wanted them to drive over there to the campus and back," the associate principal said, explaining the sharp jump in enrollment. "The counselors did a very good job, I think, last spring of telling our students that these courses would be available. ... And I think the students have talked to each other, too."

As far at technical courses go, Newell said about one-third of the 350 or so total college courses taken by students in the last academic fell under that category, including but not limited certified nursing assistant classes, first responder classes, courses in electronics, or classes in the health sciences fields.

"(The students) will still be doing that," Newell said, referring to those who will be traveling to and from GCHS and GCCC to take technical courses. "We'll have 100 to 200 students, primarily seniors, who will have something off campus."

What's more, a new Kansas law that took effect this past July may greatly benefit high school students who are enrolled in post-secondary career technical programs, and officials at both GCHS and GCCC said they are working out the details.

The Kansas Legislature passed a state bill this past legislative session — Senate Bill 155 — that establishes an incentive program encouraging school districts to increase the number of students graduating high school with industry-recognized credentials in key occupations, including manufacturing, designated as being in highest need of additional skilled workers.

As part of the measure, high schools will receive a $1,000 reward for any student that earns an industry-recognized certificate in a demand occupation for Kansas.

The bill also covers any tuition costs for high school students enrolled in post-secondary career technical programs. Administrative officials from both schools said they're working on the details of that initiative at this time.

"It's designed to boost the Kansas economy by basically training people in high demand careers," said Steve Quakenbush, spokesman for the community college. "A lot of high schools and colleges are starting to work together on this, and it's good for colleges, too, because it gets more students into our career programs."

The GCCC president agreed.

"We're looking forward to developing this partnership with USD 457 and also with other school districts in our service area," Herbert Swender, president of GCCC, said.

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