Monday, May 7, 2001

High school juniors
and seniors can work
toward college credits

Honolulu students can take
classes that count for 2 diplomas

By Treena Shapiro

Honolulu teenagers who want to get an early start on their college education can enroll in community college and earn credits that will apply to both their high school and university diplomas.

Running Start, a partnership between the state Department of Education and the University of Hawaii, will eventually allow high school juniors and seniors all over the state enroll in designated classes at the UH campuses.

Currently, the program is in its pilot stage at Honolulu Community College, allowing only enrollment to students at Honolulu district high schools: Farrington, Kaimuki, Kaiser, Kalani, McKinley and Roosevelt.

Strikes by both the public school teachers and the University of Hawaii faculty complicated the initial semester, but Kaiser High School Principal Gayle Sugita said the program will go statewide in January 2002.

Sugita said the program "finally addresses youngsters who are high achievers and are ready to start beginning their careers in post-secondary education."

The difference between this program and the early admissions program UH has had for about 30 years is that "students receive simultaneous high school and college credits," according to David Cleveland, an Honolulu Community College professor who has helped organize the program. For example, a student could take a college-level English class and receive high school credit for it as well.

Theoretically, by taking college classes during summer school, Running Start students could receive their high school diploma and associate's degrees at the same time, Cleveland said. However, for the time being, students are restricted to taking two classes per semester.

A national program developed to encourage more students to stay in school and prepare for college opens the Running Start program to families who cannot afford the tuition. Federally funded Gear Up scholarships will cover tuition, books and transportation for students eligible for free or reduced school lunches.

Huy Vo, a McKinley high school senior, is one of 19 students who participated in Running Start this semester and also a recipient of a Gear Up scholarship.

Taking a full schedule of classes at his high school and expository writing at the community college, Vo said the extra work was challenging, but he appreciated the opportunity to get a taste of college life while still remaining at McKinley.

"We have friends at school that we socialize with, and you graduate with your class," he said. "No one wants to leave high school and go directly to college, because we have friends at high school."

The English class gives Vo more confidence as he prepares to head off to the University of Oregon this fall. "I think it's going to come easy for me," he said. "In this class we learned how to write a lot of different kinds of essays."

Running Start classes will pay off in a different way, Vo added. "It's like going to summer school: You get the classes out of the way."

Students interested in Running Start should contact their high school counselors.

For more information about Gear Up, contact Sarah Tenny at 956-4303, or write GEAR UP -- Running Start Scholarships, c/o College of Business Administration, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2404 Maile A-303, Honolulu 96822. The deadline for summer school scholarships is May 11 for the first summer session and June 22 for the second summer session.

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