The Bourne School Committee last night voted its unanimous support of an agreement that would allow Bourne High School students to earn a liberal arts associate’s degree from Cape Cod Community College at the same time as their high school diploma.
Bourne will be the first town on the Cape to offer the program to its juniors and seniors.
President of Cape Cod Community College John L. Cox was on hand last night to help present the program, called Early College Experience, and answer questions about the educational partnership.
Evolving sustainable Bourne Public School programs to accommodate students that exhibit exceptional aptitude is an ongoing priority for Bourne superintendent of schools Steven M. Lamarche.
While Bourne will be the first school on the Cape with the program, Mr. Lamarche has been researching similar partnerships in other school districts off-Cape.
Programs in place between Mount Wachusett Community College and the schools within its district are the current model that the Bourne agreement is based upon. Mr. Lamarche received advice and feedback directly from the administrators of that program.
Mr. Lamarche opened last night’s discussion before the vote with these words, “One of the best ways to provide Bourne students the opportunity to succeed in college is to provide them with a substantial college experience while still in high school. Dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, and other programs are a start. However, college courses in high school can no longer be the exclusive province of advanced students. Ideally, all students should be able to begin college-level work as soon as they are ready—and before they graduate high school.”
Bourne School Committee member Jonathan (Jay) D. O’Hara asked Dr. Cox to paint him a picture of the target demographic for students in the program.
Dr. Cox suggested that because styles of learning for each student varies, the program could serve students who have the ability to accelerate their learning or it could serve at-risk students who would do better in an environment that is different from the traditional high school setting.
Most classes will take place at the college.
This fact prompted school committee chairperson Matthew B. Stuck to ask, “Will these students still be able to come to BHS for their afterschool activities with their friends, and participate in sports and drama?”
“Absolutely,” Mr. Lamarche said. “They are still Bourne High School students, they are just earning a free college degree while they are here.”
There will be no classroom tuition costs to the students. Books and transportation, however will be the student’s responsibility, but in cases of need Bourne Public Schools will supply assistance, he said.
“There is a cost to Bourne for the program that you will see [justified] in the budget for next year.” Mr. Lamarche said. The program is slated to start next September.
Mr. O’Hara asked who would be looking out for the students once they have left the BHS campus.
Both Dr. Cox and Mr. Lamarche cited the guidance departments at both institutions as the main point of contacts for students.
“Our [guidance] advisors will receive special training to handle this program and the students,” Dr. Cox said.
The figure of a 99 percent success rate was given to the committee for graduation results achieved in the Wachusett Regional School District.
Before the vote was taken, two members of the school committee, Heather A. M. DiPaola and Catherine D. Walton, commended both Mr. Lamarche and Dr. Cox for establishing this program and giving Bourne students this opportunity, stating that not only students, but the community, will also benefit from this innovative program and educational partnership.