College Credit Plus program evolves at Southern

Southern Local High School junior Arianna Goley reviews her critical essay assignment with English teacher Kelly Clark (Submitted photo)

SALINEVILLE — The College Credit Plus program has evolved at Southern Local High School and more teachers are becoming certified so students can remain in the classroom.

This is the first year that high school teachers are leading college-level classes and about 45 students participate. Students generally have travelled to Kent State University’s East Liverpool Campus or Eastern Gateway Community College, but Ron Infanti, facilitator at SLHS, said there were myriad benefits to conducting classes onsite such as saving on travel time to keeping students in a familiar environment.

But the biggest advantages are that today’s SLHS students could graduate with both a high school diploma and a college associate’s degree and save costs in the long run.

“It’s a high school setting, but when you leave here you are a college student,” Infanti said, adding that it also helps build students’ confidence when they actually head to an institution of higher learning.

SLHS currently officers English, Spanish, history and online psychology and art classes–the latter two of which Infanti facilitates– while students may catch up on work in any course during flex time in the media center. To qualify, teachers must provide their college transcripts to EGCC and among the present instructors are SLHS Assistant Principal Ron Sines, teachers Kelly Clark, Mary Lou Taylor and Bob Shansky and Spanish teacher Carla Calderon.

“Our goal is to try to get more teachers to be able to teach classes here,” Infanti added. “There will actually be 10 classes here this year and will hopefully add sociology and communication next semester. We’ve got 45 students taking one or more college classes.”

CCP is available to grades 7-12 and Infanti said one middle school student is actively involved. While the teaching concept is new, he said it truly benefits students.

“I like it because the kids can go to any technical school,” he added. “Whether it’s a one-year school, two-year school or four-year school, it starts here. They really have 10 credits or more when they start college and this is free.”

English teacher Kelly Clark likes the concept because it prepares high school students for college-level studies.

“I like the fact that we offer this so they have an advantage when they get to college,” Clark said. “English class is the best place to start because we work on how to write college papers. Being able to give them the advantage of true college writing in a high school classroom is instrumental to their success in college.”

Several SLHS students said it was hard work but it would help them in the long run.

“It’s great,” said junior Brock Smalley. “I like being able to get a head start on my future.”

Ninth-grader Nicholas Sabbato said he was studying art history and psychology and it was a real challenge.

“It prepares us for what we’re going to have to deal with once we graduate,” noted junior Delainey Mellott.

SLHS Principal Jay Kiger said the program a valuable educational resource.

“If a kid starts his or her freshman year, they could literally walk out with an associate’s degree with Eastern Gateway Community College their senior year.”

Hopes are to add more courses next year including medical terminology and statistics, as well as a possible literature class.