Starting this summer, high school students from Verona and surrounding towns can enroll in one of three college-level courses being offered by the district.

For the first time this year the district is bringing the Summer Enrichment Academy (V-SEA)program to the high school where students in 10th through 12th grades have the opportunity to not only take challenging courses, but also to earn college credits.

Through partnerships with area colleges, the high school will offer a history course, an English course and a culinary course, all of which can be taken for high school credit, college credit or both with the program’s duel enrollment option. And the best part is students can get a college education not to mention credit at a fraction of the price it would cost on a college campus.

Big cost savings
Both The Vietnam War and the Writing Power courses if taken at Caldwell College, one of the district’s partners, would run $700 a credit, amounting to $2,100 a course. At Verona High School, that course costs $495 for Verona residents with an even lower price, $195, if the student opts to take it without receiving the college credit, Superintendent Steven Forte said. Prices are slightly higher for non-residents.

The other course, Professional Food Preparing Techniques, offered this summer through a partnership with Bergen Community College, is priced slightly higher, but the fee covers the material costs. Taught by a chef, the course includes a lab component, which will take place in the high school’s commercial kitchen, Forte said.

“This is not what you took in high school called Home Ec.,” Forte stressed. “It prepares you to be a chef.”

Forte’s reasons for starting the program was twofold. He noted with 96% of Verona’s high school graduates going on to college, it made sense to help them prepare.

“If 96% of our students go to college, why not have 96% of them getting some college credit before they go to college?,” he asked.

The other reason Forte gave was “to expose students to areas of growth.” Like the culinary arts, which as Forte pointed out has seen a dramatic increase in popularity with the slew of television shows focusing on the field.

“Something for everyone”
Offering a vocational course was important as well, Forte acknowledged, as not all students attend college. “I believe in having something for everyone,” he said.

Ultimately Forte is looking to prepare students for life after high school and sees the summer program as a start.

But he doesn’t plan to end there. In September, he will introduce dual-enrollment courses during the regular school year.

He’s already initiated the process with a course called Careers in Education to be offered to seniors next year. This program, known on the national level as Tomorrow’s Teachers, has students splitting their time between being taught in the classroom and teaching in the classroom. When not in their high school classes students will be placed in classrooms throughout the district to assist teachers in grades they hope to one day teach themselves.

As Forte pointed out in his forum last month careers in education are projected to see tremendous growth with 1.3 million additional jobs over the next 6 years according to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics.

The district has partnered Fairleigh Dickinson University to offer this course and hopes to partner with Seton Hall and NJIT to offer more of these career-based internships “where kids get real world experience,” Forte said.

If Forte has his way, he said, he can realistically see students graduating high school with 30 college credits.

For now, each summer course runs for 60 hours and students receive college transcripts directly from the college or university partnered with the course.

For more information contact the district here.