Tuesday, January 08, 2013

TOP STORY >> JHS students thrive at college level

Leader staff writer

Nine Jacksonville High School students recently celebrated the end of their first college semester.

They were the first group to take advantage of the school’s concurrent credit program through ASU-Beebe.

The tuition and books for the three- or four-hour course each student enrolled in were paid for with a portion of the $5.7 million federal school-improvement grant JHS received after being ranked in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state.

The school received $2 million of the grant in June 2011 and was renewed for that same amount this year.

JHS could get the remaining $1.7 million for 2013-14 if the money is used appropriately and the results are positive. And the results of the school’s concurrent program have met that standard, according to the students.

Brandon Toombs, a junior, has earned a three-hour credit in college algebra from ASU-Beebe. He and the other students attended their classes at the Jacksonville-Little Rock Air Force Base joint-education center on Vandenberg Boulevard.

Toombs plans to enroll in statistics next semester. The semester starts next week.

“I wanted to knock out freshman classes and leave a legacy at Jacksonville High School,” he said.

Toombs shared that he learned that college students have to rely on themselves more and scheduling is much different.

“It’s up to you. You don’t have to go to school every day. It’s spaced out and you leave when you choose to leave,” he said.

Toombs’ dream school is the University of Tennessee, but he said his mom wants him to attend Duke University in North Carolina. He wants to major in mathematics or sports management.

Senior Sara Rabun took a four-hour biology lecture and lab. She said she learned how to balance school with other activities.

Rabun explained that she was also held more accountable. She and the other biology students had to review recorded lectures rather than hear them in the classroom.

“What was challenging was making myself go over the lectures,” Rabun said.

She said the advantages of the program included not having to pay for the credit and having people readily available to help.

“If I need help, there are teachers here (at JHS),” Rabun said. She wants to major in history or psychology at Lyon College in Batesville.

Junior Kyaira Brown completed the three-hour English I course.

She said, “I didn’t have to pay for it. I’ll have to take less classes (for my degree). It’s early college experience.”

Brown said she also learned that students play a larger role in college.

“(Your courses are) based off your schedule,” she said.

Brown intends to become a veterinarian. She wants to attend Henderson State University in Arkadelphia

Senior Damitrious Ervin also took English I.

He said, “I always thought (college) would be harder, but it’s easier. It’s not a bunch of homework. It’s more learning. It’s really you decide how it turns out.”

Ervin plans to go to the University of California at Berkley. He moved from California to Arkansas this year. He wants to enter the medical field as a technical surgeon, and is also considering computer science.

The students aren’t the only ones that have been impacted positively by the new program.

Parent Peggy Buchanan said her daughter, Ivy Wallace, has really grown up this past semester.

“It’s been a good program. We’re so proud she’s achieved it and done so well. It really did mature her,” she said.

The students were only allowed to take one course last semester, according to JHS graduation coach Paige Viger.

She said there is no limit, other than the students’ high school schedules, on how many courses they can take this semester.

The concurrent enrollment program is open to any JHS students who have taken and passed the COMPASS exams or scored a 19 or higher on the ACT.

Both tests are used to determine if entering college freshmen need remedial classes.