College credit classes and certifications come to Crothersville

CROTHERSVILLE

In the 2015-16 school year, six Crothersville High School students will have a chance to earn college credit, and possibly a certification.

Through the early college program, three juniors and three seniors will spend a couple of hours in the afternoon each school day taking welding or automated manufacturing classes at Mid-America Science Park in Scottsburg.

The classes, offered through Ivy Tech Community College, are geared toward the nontraditional student who may or may not go to college, Crothersville Principal David Schill said.

Students will take core classes at Crothersville in the morning and then ride a bus to Scottsburg for the Ivy Tech classes in the afternoon.

Upon completing each Ivy Tech class, students can take certification tests and possibly be certified by the time they graduate from high school.

“After the welding classes, they would be able to take some of the beginning-level welding certification tests, so they feasibly could come out of the program with four or five certifications,” Schill said. “And with the automated manufacturing certification, many of the local industries have hired those kids above other kids that are not certified.”

Plus, since these are dual-credit classes, students will have credits in case they choose to go to college.

Schill said his students can begin earning dual credits as early as their sophomore year. It doesn’t cost anything to take dual-credit courses because the students are mixed in with regular classes.

“Everybody at Crothersville has the opportunity to graduate with dual credits because I require my teachers that teach dual credit to enroll everyone,” he said. “Not everyone gets it because they either don’t pass the class or they don’t score high enough on ACCUPLACER or they don’t want it.”

Crothersville and Austin high schools have participated in the early college program for five years. Administrators from both schools began talking about new Ivy Tech offerings, and Austin students took welding and automated manufacturing classes this school year.

Next school year, along with Crothersville’s six students, Austin will have 12 students enrolled in those classes.

Schill said he and guidance counselor Jessica Wischmeier talked to around 15 kids about the program to see who was interested. They then had to ensure those kids were on track with their high school credits, and they were able to select the six students.

Those taking the automated manufacturing classes will learn about a variety of skills, including robots, fluid power, electronics, programming, adjustable controllers, packaging, logistics, industrial concepts, industrial engineering, quality control and more.

“It kind of boils down to the Japanese idea of manufacturing where you don’t learn a specific skill, but you learn a plethora of job-related skills that you can apply, and you don’t stay in the same job all the time. You move around,” Schill said.

Being able to offer this opportunity to his students means a lot, Schill said. The idea is that students leave Crothersville and continue to be lifelong learners.

“Any place where I can give my kids a step up is wonderful because that means they have yet another opportunity to get a good job when they leave here and make a good living and become a respectable, positive member of society. We want to try to produce the best overall person we can,” he said.

“We are so tightly bonded around here with the number of schools and number of kids coming out looking for jobs, you’ve got to have a leg up somewhere, and if I can provide my kids that, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

Crothersville students have two other opportunities to gain college credits or experience.

Since 1995, students have gone to C4 Columbus Area Career Connection for classes in areas such as nursing and other health careers and automotive. Depending on the program, dual credits and certifications are available.

Schill said several Crothersville students have earned their certified nursing assistant license or been able to get a jump-start on a cosmetology career.

“Cosmetology is one of the best programs because kids finish as 18-year-olds and they can take the state board test as soon as they graduate,” he said. “If they pass, they have to work in a shop with someone else for three years. By the time a student is 21 years old, they could have their own business. That’s phenomenal.”

Ivy Tech also offers a program where students can earn an associate degree in high school. The classes were at Crothersville three years ago, but this was the second year Crothersville students went to Austin High School for classes.

The Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative is based upon invitation and application, and it takes at least 60 credits to earn the degree.

In three years, Crothersville has had 20 students earn an associate degree.

Having the degree results in a student not spending as much time in college, and it’s also a cost savings.

“They may finish college in two-and-a-half to three years,” Schill said. “Ivy Tech has estimated parents are going to save somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 over a college career.”

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.