Even during a global pandemic, we know that a student’s high school experience is about more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. In order to stay competitive with their peers, high schoolers in our district have access to a host of special programs that offer job training and a head start on college courses.
Cambridge Program at BHS
The Cambridge Assessment International Education Program, which is hosted at Bethel High School, offers an international pre-university curriculum and examination system that emphasizes the value of a broad and balanced education for academically able students.
This unique program is part of the prestigious University of Cambridge in England and is one of the most demanding and rigorous college preparatory programs in the world.
When the pandemic hit and students moved to online learning, each Cambridge teacher created their own Canvas course based on the Cambridge syllabus. Teachers had to fine tune the materials to meet the rigorous expectations of the exams that are administered in May and June.
“As a team, we have supported each other while creating high-level online learning modules. We have found alternative means to reteach basic skills using TedEd, Cambridge video and documents, and creating YouTube videos,” said Katie Schultz-Wetherington, Bethel’s Cambridge Program coordinator.
Pierce County Skills Center
The Pierce County Skills Center opened a decade ago with the goal of providing hands-on learning opportunities to high school students, along with academic curriculum taught by industry professionals.
The Skills Center serves juniors and seniors from 10 nearby school districts, and even in these unusual times the school continues to offer its students technical and professional experiences that prepare them for high demand, high-wage jobs and post-secondary education.
“One of the unique things about the Skills Center is that, although our classes certainly have an academic component — math, science, English — it’s the applied academics, it’s the hands-on experience, it’s the actual lab experience, it’s working on a car, working on patients, it’s designing and building and constructing your own products. So it’s the combination of the academics with that hands-on application,” said PCSC Director Michelle Ledbetter.
Many of the Skills Center’s programs also give students the opportunity to earn college credits.
Earning college credits in high school
Bethel offers an array of options for students who want to earn college credits while still in high school.
In addition to the PCSC, our high schoolers can earn college credits through Running Start and programs such as College in the High School, Advanced Placement, and our partnership with Pierce College.
The College in the High School program brings college-level courses to all three of Bethel’s comprehensive high schools.
The coursework, which is supplied by both the University of Washington and Central Washington University, allows students to earn official college credit in the comfort of their own classrooms.
Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Bethman was the principal at Graham-Kapowsin High School when the College in the High School program began. She said the first course offered was Addiction in the Brain.
“It was a class that I believed students would be really interested in,” Bethman said. “UW had reached out and asked if we were interested in the course. They wanted to see how high school students would do in that course. They did a really intensive job of training our teachers for that course. There was a real strong connection to begin the class.”
Our unique partnership with Pierce College has expanded in recent years and now includes courses at GKHS and a satellite campus at Spanaway Lake High School, where students can attend college classes without leaving their home school.
The college’s winter schedule at GKHS includes six courses, all of which lead to a transferable associates degree. All courses are being delivered in online hybrid formats, which means students are expected to meet online as a group on the scheduled days and times.
“The Bethel Schools Project is dedicated to student success,” said Deborah Davolio, Pierce College Program Manager for Bethel Schools. “Support available for students includes writing assistance, general tutoring as well as help getting started in online instruction, navigating CANVAS, and connecting to campus resources.”