Ahead of the college curve

WAIMEA — Briggs Agu hopes enrolling in Early College math classes will put him a step ahead of other college freshmen.

“I wanted to take this class to go one step further in my career plan,” said the senior at Waimea High School. “I want to pursue radiology in college, and you have to have at least Math 103 and 140.”

Agu is taking both algebra and trigonometry through Kauai Community College, which will earn him college credit.

This is the first year the school is offering Early College math classes, said Principal Mahina Anguay.

Early College classes are held on high school campuses and taught by a high school teacher and a college professor.

Twenty-two Waimea High School students are taking the Early College math class, Anguay said.

“These classes give us an idea of what we’re going to be up against in college,” said Kai Lansdall, a junior. “It feels good to be ahead of some other students.”

Waimea High School also offers Running Start and Jump Start programs, which allow students to attend college campuses to earn high school and college credit or get vocational training, Anguay said.

It also offers Advanced Placement U.S. history, environmental science and English classes.

In fall 2015, there were 12 students in the Running Start program and one in the Jump Start program, she said.

Seniors in the Running Start and Early College math classes will have an average of six college credits by the time they graduate, Anguay said.

“Students get hands-on experience in working with a college and high school teacher; students get an edge on college applications and credits,” she said. “Also, students are able to take courses at KCC through Running Start that we don’t offer because our school is so small.”

Statewide

The number of students taking college level courses and earning credit is increasing, both on Kauai and statewide, according to a release from the Hawaii State Department of Education.

Up to 10 percent of the Class of 2015 earned college credit while attending high school, the release said.

The increase is a boost toward achieving Hawaii’s 55 by 25 goal — HIDOE hopes that 55 percent of working adults will hold a two- or four-year degree by 2025.

“The more access to college we give to kids, the better off we’ll all be,” Anguay said. “On the Westside, it’s even more important because of our demographics — lower median family income than the state average and lower number of high school and college graduates than the state average.”

A benefit to dual enrolling is getting the college experience while still in high school, said Anne Kane, principal of Kauai High School.

For the 2015 school year, 60 Kauai High students are enrolled in Early College courses, she said. Almost 300 students are enrolled in AP classes and 12 students were enrolled in Running Start. The average senior graduates with 12 college credits, Kane said.

“Students get the security of being at high school yet proving to themselves that they can do college,” she said.

Bill Arakaki, Kauai Complex Area superintendent, congratulated high school principals, teachers and support staff for their commitment and dedication in preparing students for college, careers and citizenship.

“Our high schools provide students with the educational experiences and opportunities that impact their future for success in life,” he said.

Career goals

There are 107 Kapaa High School students in 11th and 12th grades enrolled in Early College classes, said Principal Daniel Hamada. Eight are enrolled in Jump Start and 261 are enrolled in AP classes.

Kapaa High School placed fifth in college access, which measures the number of high school graduates pursuing a college degree, according to College and Career Readiness Indicators.

“Learning opportunities for students must be relevant,” Hamada said. “Students don’t mind taking challenging courses as long as they can see the benefits and its alignment with their interests and future goals.”

“In affording students with these learning opportunities, they grow in confidence and are willing to take on more rigorous dual credit courses,” Hamada added.

Through the Early College program, Kapaa High senior Logan Sokei has taken Math 103 and English 100.

“You get a higher education than normal classes,” he said.

Bailey Bernabe, a junior, has been taking Early College classes since she was a sophomore.

“I wanted to take the classes because it guarantees that I get the college credit, as long as I pass the class,” she said. “With AP classes, there’s a chance I wouldn’t get the credit because I have to pass an exam.”

As part of the Early College program, Bernabe has taken English 100, Math 103 and Speech 151.

“I want to take as many classes as I can,” she said.

Bernabe, who wants to pursue a degree in business and political law from Harvard or Yale, chooses classes that will be beneficial in her future studies.

“Math classes will help my business degree, and English and speech will help me as a lawyer because you have to be able to speak and write,” she said.

For Bernabe, the most rewarding part of being a part of the Early College program is getting ahead of the curve.

“You can say you went above and beyond other students,” she said.

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