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Higher edRFSD students gain experience of college class early

Post Independent Writer

With root beer and ice cream floats in hand to celebrate the holidays, the students’ energy in the Carbondale classroom seemed like that of any other high school classroom.Once the diverse mix of students from various schools settled in and the team of two seasoned teachers began the lesson, the level of discussion seemed to reach far above normal high school curriculum. The youthful students and instructors readily discussed such questions as the personal ethics of terrorists and the morality of preemptive war while quoting the writings of Albert Camus, Thomas Paine and Martin Luther King.The dichotomy of the classroom makes sense considering the Monday evening American Political Systems course allows students to earn both high school and higher education credit. Part of the CU Succeed Gold program offered through the University of Colorado at Denver, the dual-credit offerings are available this year in each of the Roaring Fork School District high schools. The growing program allows students to get a taste of college while still within comfortable surroundings, said Danny Martinez, CU-Denver executive director of academic outreach programs. The outreach classes started on the Front Range in 1990 and now are in 69 high schools in 16 counties. “We had a lot of requests from school districts to help students on the upper end that they need to challenge more, especially in smaller districts,” Martinez said. “It enables the high school to expand upon curriculum in some ways and upgrade it. It provides students with the opportunity in a safe and supportive environment to get a taste of next level of academic expectations. The biggest advantage is it provides for a smoother transition from high school to college.”In addition to the evening class taught by retired Aspen teacher Willard Clapper and current Colorado Rocky Mountain School teacher A.O. Forbes, Roaring Fork High School offers CU Succeed World History during the school day. Environmental Ethics is in the works for next semester. At Glenwood Springs High School, the CU Succeed U.S. History class is new this year. The school added two sections of the class due to high student demand, counselor Bob Willey said.Three years ago Basalt High School was the second western Colorado school to offer the university-level classes on campus. The CU program at BHS now includes some 50 students per semester taking a variety of courses such as General Biology 2, Introduction to Political Science or College Algebra.Taught by BHS faculty approved through CU, the courses cost $150, or less than one third of the cost of in-state college tuition. Students are reimbursed through the school district if they earn a C or better, and course credits are accepted by all Colorado public schools and at various top private universities across the country.Willey said almost 20 percent of the school’s juniors and seniors are enrolled in some sort of dual-credit course, including popular options through Colorado Mountain College, noting, “It’s a positive experience for the students.”Suzie Romig is the RFSD’s public information officer.


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