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Charter school targets college goals

Charter schools targets college goals

August 06, 2009
Vicky Annesty went through three high schools before coming upon Early College High School at Arvada and its new program, Excel. She said she ran into the same problem at all her previous schools.

“I have problems with bigger schools,” said Annesty, 17, who just finished her junior year. “I had problems with teachers not paying (enough) attention because they had so many students.”

She said she wants more one-on-one time with teachers, and that’s one of several features the Arvada charter school promises with Excel, a new program geared toward 15- to 17-year-olds looking to quickly recover their credits, gain college credits or didn’t succeed in a traditional high school setting. The program begins Aug. 17.

Annesty said she usually gets good grades, but when she was lacking in one-on-one time, her grades dropped. She heard her neighbor was going to ECHS, so she thought it might be a better fit.

The new program is not simply for those looking to only get their high school diploma. Every student in the program is expected to go on to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree. Annesty said she is hoping to get better grades so she can get into a good college, possibly one in Maine, to study marine biology.

The program, which is free and open to students in any school district, offers students the chance to get a high school diploma and up to 20 college credit hours, said Chris Gerboth, director of student services at Early

“Society looks at students falling into this category as at risk, or falling behind,” Gerboth said. “When the rubber hits the road, they’re actually able to think and perform more efficiently. They have a little bit better sense of who they are, maybe they have a job and more responsibilities.”

Excel is designed to take two to three years for a student to complete. The first year consists of credit recovery — or giving students the ability to retake classes they failed — and academic skills building — such as college preparedness, self-advocacy and interpersonal communication.

“Very few high schools teach how to take notes or how to read a textbook,” Gerboth said.

As well as meeting the age requirements, to qualify students must have at least 20 high school credits, equal to two, yearlong classes. Students do not have to take any admissions exams to get into the program,

In addition to traditional classes, the program offers self-paced study and computer and online classes for credit recovery. The classes are age-appropriate — meaning the curriculum will be molded around the learning abilities and skills of 15- to 17-year-old students — and are constructed to build on students’ existing strength.

The school will hold most of the classes in a workshop setting, where students work in groups and teachers can walk around the classroom, helping students who need it. Classes will have between 20 and 23 students each.

Classes are offered from either 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for students who work late after school.

The program also incorporates the same core values the school tries to instill in all of its students, the five R’s: respect, responsibility, rigor, relevance and relationships. Gerboth said in addition to being incorporated into the curriculum, students meet with advisors everyday for 15 minutes during which those values are discussed.

Gerboth said while schools on the East and West coasts have embraced programs like Excel, the interior part of the country has been slow to incorporate such programs in their high schools. Often students who fail in high school are forced to drop out.

Gerboth said the school will be taking admissions a little bit past the Aug. 17 start date. However maximum enrollment is 40, in addition to the 100 traditional students the school is anticipating this year. He said he is expecting most admissions to come in close to the start date because students are waiting to see what their spring grades and CSAP results are, to see whether or not the students need an alternative program.

Details

Call 720-479-3475 or visit http://www.echswest.org for more information or to register.

The school will host an informational session from 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10 at Early College High School, 4905 W. 60th Ave., Arvada.

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