WCCCD brings college classes to W-W high schools

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Courtesy of Observer & Eccentric

Students at Wayne Memorial and John Glenn high schools are earning college credit without leaving their buildings as the result of an agreement worked out between the Wayne-Westland Community Schools and the Wayne County Community College District.

The idea of students earning college credits while still in high school isn’t new. High school students have been able to take classes at colleges for many years through dual enrollment. But the Wayne-Westland program rolled out this fall brings college-level classes to the high schools.

“The response has really been phenomenal,” said Paul Sallah, deputy superintendent for instruction. “What’s great about this is it goes above and beyond what other districts are doing. We’re always trying to do more for our kids.”

One hundred students signed up for the classes which include two sections of speech that are being offered at Wayne Memorial and introduction to philosophy and introduction to visual arts that are being offered at Glenn. The classes don’t require students to take an extraneous exam but they do have to qualify to can take them. The classes transfer for college credit, Sallah said.

A change in the law has expanded who can take the college classes, so students can begin taking college classes as early as their freshman year.

“We’re very excited about partnering with WCCCD and the program,” he added. “WCCCD offered the best tuition rates and was very eager to work with us.”

“There’s pretty solid research that speaks to dual enrollment. In every institution where students participated there was a far greater likelihood they would graduate from college,” he added.

Sallah credited School Superintendent Greg Baracy in hammering out the agreement. The school district and college was able to pull the program together “very quickly” last summer.

“He had an idea of where he wanted to go with this, he got the commitment from the college and it was full speed ahead,” Sallah said.

The district used its fall newsletter to get the word out about the classes. According to Sallah, school officials talked to the principals and “the feedback was phenomenal. They were “excited, enthusiastic and pleased” their students could earn high school and college credits at the same time, he added.

“We’re really excited to offer these opportunities for our students,” said Baracy, adding that he was “somewhat surprised” there was so much interest when the district rolled out the program. “It goes to show we have students who are serious about their postsecondary education.”

“Ultimately our goal is to develop a middle college concept — having students graduate from high school and have their associate’s degree,” Baracy added. “There’s just so many advantages for students. It gives them a two-year head start on a four-year degree. It’s a pretty awesome program.”

Baracy is elated that the district was able to develop the partnership with WCCCD. College Chancellor Curtis L. Ivery was instrumental in participating and in getting the talks off the ground, he said.

“We should be able to build up a significant number of students with college credit,” Baracy said. “We’re confident our students can do the work and do it successfully.”

School board Secretary Cindy Schofield voiced approval of the program because it brings college to students who qualify for dual enrollment but have now way to get to the colleges.

“It’s exciting to put a top-notch program at our high schools,” she said. “It’s a great benefit for our students and a win-win for everyone.”

The district is looking a flip-flopping the classes second semester, offering speech at Glenn and the philosophy and visual arts classes at Wayne Memorial and at offering more classes in 2013-14.

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