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Throwing graduation hats

Union Springs High School will be adding new courses in its partnership with Cayuga Community College.

The school will add courses such as anthropology, statistics and environmental biology for the 2018-2019 school year, principal Chuck Walker said. The program allows students to earn liberal arts and sciences degrees through courses taught at the high school — though one English course needed to complete either degree must be taken online or at the college. Classes in subjects such as geology and Spanish are currently available through the partnership.

Freshmen who took courses in fall 2016 were the first students in the program, with teachers in the school heading up CCC's courses. Sarah Yaw, CCC's director of K-12 partnership and academic pathways, said Union Springs is the first Cayuga County institution to offer a full college degree on the high school's campus. It is fairly rare for high school teachers to have the qualifications to teach the college courses, but the Union Springs faculty had the right experience, Yaw said.

Yaw said the program's structure allows for some students to complete their degrees within their time at the high school, while others can simply rack up a large amount of college credits by taking many classes to get a "significant jump start" in their collegiate careers.

Walker said Yaw has been great to partner with and praised the high school staff.

"(The teachers) being so well-educated that they were approved for these courses is pretty amazing," Walker said.

Yaw also heaped praise on the Union Springs faculty, saying the roster has fostered a "college-going culture," acclimating students to the rigors of college and encouraging students to start thinking about their academic futures beyond CCC. She said students gaining college credits early helps increase the number of children who go to college and finish their degrees.

"That has long-term economic benefits for our community," Yaw said.

Also, the school recently acquired 325 Dell laptops to accommodate almost 300 students in October, Walker said. He said the purchases were aided through BOCES, though he's not sure of the exact cost. Not all of the school's students have internet access, Walker said, and the school has increasingly gone digital, as some classes feature online grading and links related to homework.

Walker feels not exposing students to online learning before college would be doing them a "disservice."

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter