Elio is attending college at Discovery High School.
So are Sarah, Arreon and 12 other students through a new program, DiscoverARC, that began this year by offering an American River College writing class at NUSD’s alternative high school. It hopes to add a college reading course or one that focuses on college survival skills.
Elio, 17, said he came to Discovery High because his grades were sagging elsewhere. Now he not only can catch up to seniors at other campuses, he can get ahead of many of them by earning college credit in the once-a-week ARC writing class, English Writing 362.
“I took this course because I feel it will help me have a better understanding of what college is and what basically awaits me in the future,” Elio said. “I feel like I still have some growing to do, and I feel (this class) will help.”
Discovery teacher Mike McKibbon and counselor Laurelle Mathison teamed with ARC officials to launch the program. McKibbon said DiscoverARC is a bridge that helps many students, like Elio, understand that they’re capable of succeeding in college even if they struggled academically in years past.
“They’re really smart kids, and they want a successful life like you or I,” McKibbon said of Discovery students. “The ultimate goal is that when they graduate from Discovery they’ll be totally ready to continue at ARC.”
DiscoverARC’s expenses are split between NUSD and ARC, allowing students to attend the 14-week college writing class for free. They’re provided tutoring and mentoring by McKibbon, as necessary, and the chance to attend a weekly study session at Discovery by Gus Perez, ARC instructional assistant.
Both NUSD and ARC are committed to college and career success, so they have a mutual interest in working together to ensure that no child slips through the cracks, said McKibbon, a former NUSD Teacher of the Year.
As students in the English Writing 362 class at Discovery graduate from high school, the ties established with ARC may draw them to the community college, which offers both academic courses and a strong Career Technical Education program that offers options from paramedic to cook to carpentry.
Dr. Carina Hoffpauir, the ARC professor who teaches English Writing 362 at Discovery, said that she feels a “real special dynamic” there. “The first day of class, when I said, ‘Welcome to college!’ they had this look on their faces, like, ‘Hey, ME in college?’” Hoffpauir said. “It was a very special moment.”
At one recent session, the class was focused on the theme of technology in the classroom and discussing how the experience of reading on a digital device differs from reading a traditional book. They also were summarizing main ideas in an essay or video.
By the time they finish the 14-week class, Dr. Hoffpauir said, “They should have a sense of what the expectations are for college-level writing, and whatever comes next for them in college, they’ll have some sense of what they can anticipate.”
Arreon, 17, said he would recommend the class to others, he’s learning a lot from Dr. Hoffpauir, and that he plans to enroll at ARC once he graduates from high school.
Sarah, 18, said she “messed up” and got behind in her grades before coming to Discovery. But she’s happy to be taking English Writing 362. “It’s giving me a chance to ask a lot of questions and figure out what I want to do,” she said. “Because I do want to go to college. I do want to have a life after high school.”
Launching DiscoverARC 2017-18
•In September, a team of ARC Counselors and Staff gave a multimedia presentation to DHS students at DHS.
•In October, a team of ARC Staff came to DHS to walk DHS students through the ARC Online Registration Process, and assist in setting up their ARC Account.
•In November, students went to ARC to take the College Placement Test. Lunch was provided.
•In December, DHS students met with ARC Counselors to create the beginnings of their Ed Plan.