Oakdale High English class offers students college experience -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected Jan. 31, 2013. An explanation of the correction follows the story.

When Kyle Best, 17, of New Market walks across the stage to accept his diploma from Oakdale High School in June, he could already have a college class under his belt.

Kyle is one of 36 students at the high school who are the first to participate in a pilot, college-level English 101 class offered at the high school as part of a dual enrollment program with Frederick Community College. The 15-week class, taught by high school by English teacher and FCC adjunct Ed Schoder, started Jan. 24 and deals with education concepts of critical writing, reading and thinking.

“It seems like [the class] is going to be a lot of work, but I think [Mr. Schoder] will help me,” he said.

The program was started to give students at the high school an opportunity to become familiar with college level course work in an environment that they are used to, according to Schoder. The class is broken into two sessions of 18 students who will meet twice a week until May 15. Students who earn a passing grade in the three-credit course will be able to transfer those credits to FCC or any other public college or university in Maryland.

“It’s a tremendous boost because it gives [the students] a chance to know what college work is like,” he said. “There’s nothing watered down just because they are in a high school building.”

In order to enroll in the English class, the students had to take an English placement test, the that as traditional FCC students.

Officials from FCC and the FCPS have been working on the dual enrollment program for about two years, after participating in the county’s College Success Task Force, part of a state-wide initiate to aligning high school graduation requirements with college readiness requirements. Dual enrollment programs were one of the recommendations made by the task force, said Chris Helfrich, FCC associate vice president for teaching and learning.

“...We wanted to redesign the senior year,” she said.

Schoder said that the partnership also makes the college experience affordable for Oakdale students. The school system and college are sharing costs of the English 101 class and offering it to students for about $139. For in-county students, a three-credit class on the FCC campus is $436. 30, according to the college’s website.

“What makes this a wonderful idea is that for this class everything is already in place,” he said. “You have a facility, you have a curriculum and you have students who have to take English.”

Kyle, who said he is looking at attending FCC or Salisbury University next fall, said the afford ability of the program was one of the benefits that attracted him.

“I finished all of my classes last semester, so I wanted to get a head start on college,” he said. “[The program] is substantially cheaper.”

Larkin Hohnke, FCPS director of high schools, said that the school system hopes to eventually expand the program.

“We would like to see this go possibly to all of our high school but particularly to our schools that are not necessarily [close] to FCC,” he said.

For Oakdale High School, officials are hope to increase dual enrollment classes so that students may eventually be able to graduate with up to 16 college credits.

This story was updated to correct Chris Helfrich’s title. Helfrich is Frederick Community College’s associate vice president for teaching and learning.