Preparing Our Community’s Greatest Resource, Center Grove Students, for Graduation and the Future
Writer / Julie Yates . Photographer / James Eichelman
The words “high school” brings to thought images of sporting events, homecoming, spirit days and prom. However, the perception of this period of life as a carefree time when post graduation plans will not be considered until junior year is not a current reality. In fact, even freshmen have an eye on their future and are thoughtfully considering classes that will enable them to pursue their plans after graduation. Today, businesses and industries require a high-level skill set of both academic and technical knowledge, so careful planning is important to ensure that a student is prepared for the path they wish to take upon exiting high school.
Center Grove High School offers such a vast array of choices that deciding which courses to take may seem daunting. There are even options to earn college credit through a high school course. The key, according to Doug Bird, the principal of Center Grove High School, is to “Make sure the classes chosen provide an appropriate level of rigor that will challenge each student on their individual level, but are balanced with what they are interested in.”
Fortunately, there are resources in place to help guide students and their families as they make decisions. In the fall of freshman year, all students take the class, preparing for college and careers: keystone. In the class, students are given interest and learning style inventories as well as a chance to job shadow and map out a four-year plan with their guidance counselor. Results from tests such as the PSAT and the pre ACT also aid in revealing innate ability and interests. Guidance counselors are available throughout the school year and each student has a one-on-one meeting before finalizing schedule requests for the next year.
Indiana High School Diplomas: The Driving Force
The basis of each student’s course plan has its roots in the type of Indiana high school diploma that the student has chosen to pursue. Indiana Core 40 contains the minimum number of courses required by the state and contains the course work necessary to apply to colleges and universities. Two others, Core 40 with Academic Honors and Core 40 with Technical Honors have additional requirements including additional math credits, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and dual credit courses, plus minimum scores on the SAT and/or ACT test. In AP classes, a student is awarded college credit through The College Board for a score of three or higher on the end of course exam. A general diploma is also offered for the students who complete the formal process of opting out of Indiana’s Core 40 Diploma requirements.
Both the Core 40 with Academic Honors and Core 40 with Technical Honors diplomas give students the opportunity take classes that will earn dual credits. These are courses where, due to an agreement with universities and community colleges, a college credit is earned simultaneously with a high school credit. For students pursuing the Academic Honors diploma, Center Grove has four Advanced College Placement (ACP) classes: literature, geology, calculus and elementary composition. A student graduating with a Core 40 with Technical Honors diploma has the opportunity to graduate high school with an associate degree in the field of their choice.
Jump Start College Credits: Early College Program
Center Grove’s Early College (EC) Program is one option students may choose if they are interested in earning a 30 credit transfer certificate or a 60 credit associate degree. This small program, a partnership with Vincennes University, admits between 100 and 120 students per year. Almost like a school within a school, all core classes are taken with a set group of faculty and other EC students. To prepare students for the transition to a traditional college, this program includes Xmester, which is a two week long course held on campus at Vincennes University. Students experience dorm living and earn three credit hours upon completion of the class.
Two other programs, Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and HIRE Technology are also in position to assist students in carving out a course pathway tailored to their interest and abilities. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that develops STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum for use in schools. It also provides training for instructors who teach those courses. At Center Grove High School, biomedical and pre-engineering classes fall under the PLTW umbrella. Likewise dedicated to prepare students for their future, the new HIRE Technology was established to address the skills manufacturing and businesses require a potential employee to have in the work environment today.
Ensuring a Higher Level of Readiness for the Workforce
This school year marks the first time that the HIRE Technology’s advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) course is being offered. Taught by Center Grove High School teacher, Brent Schulz, students will have the opportunity to earn six college credits and gain an advanced manufacturing and logistics certification by successfully completing all classwork and passing required exams. Schulz, who also teaches three other HIRE classes, is excited about this course saying, “When students graduate with a higher level of readiness for the workforce, they will be hired at a higher level of pay. When they have certifications such as the AML, their resume goes to the top of the pile.”
Senior Chad Burton echoes those thoughts by voicing that he is debating between a future in either construction management or computer programming and what he has learned via computer modules in the class would be transferable to both careers. However, Burton was quick to say, “We aren’t always on the computer. We get to go to the lab workshop and work in groups to build products we design.”
Another member of the class, Ryan Stark, also a senior, is in Center Grove’s Early College program. Stark expressed his opinion of the class, “You can do anything with logistics and there is no downside to getting college credits.” Students who wish to further their expertise of manufacturing and logistics can take the second level course at the Central Nine Career Center (C9).
Central Nine Career Center serves nine area school districts and has programs that either prepare students for viable career such as cosmetology or allow them to further prepare for their post-secondary education plans. Most of the programs result in dual credits and/or a certification. Students attend either the morning or afternoon session that gives them the ability to take classes at their home school and participate in extracurricular activities. Many of the credits earned meet the requirements for an Academic or Technical Honors diploma.
Central Grove High School continues to search out and develop opportunities for learning such as online Global Campus, which prepares students for online classes they will experience in college. Input received from CG 100, a community advisory group, the Strategic Planning Committee and the teachers are constantly considered. Wendy Kruger, the director of curriculum stresses, “All the skills we teach, either in the classroom or in extracurricular activities, are focused on preparing flexible and well-rounded lifelong learners that have a strong work ethic but also are able to collaborate with others and maintain interpersonal communication skills in the environment they are in.”