Dual enrollment and vocational education classes on the rise at Bear Lake Schools

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake Schools guidance counselor Mike Grahl said the hallways usually occupied by the junior and senior class members are a little vacant during the afternoons this year.

The reason for the lack of students is an unusually large number of them are taking dual enrollment and tech prep classes, which take them off the school campus. It is a situation that Grahl said is providing some valuable educational opportunities for the students.

“We have 15 kids dual enrolled in classes this year and most of them are seniors,” said Grahl. “There are two juniors and even one sophomore taking an intermediate algebra course online after school because she is filling out required classes during the day.”

He said potentially there are about 78 credits involved for students in the dual enrollment program.

“There are a couple kids taking classes through Baker College online this year,” he said. “Baker has been kind of an interesting experience because it is a lot different in enrolling with them than with West Shore Community College.”

He said within the next week the students would be enrolling for the winter semester. Grahl added that the focus of the subjects students are taking has changed over the years.

“I think we will be having another junior taking classes down at West Shore, as she went out to take the compass test to see if she qualifies,” he said. “In the afternoon, we have only one senior in the building as everyone else is taking tech prep or dual enrolling. So, it is pretty quiet in that end of the building in the afternoon.”

The tech prep program has about 22 Bear Lake students enrolled at West Shore Community College through the West Shore Educational Service District (former Mason Lake Intermediate School District).

“There are eight kids in a medical career program down there and whether or not they follow through with it, and it gives them a great experience in looking at that field,” said Grahl. “There are five in digital media, five in criminal justice and a couple in building trades and graphic communications.

Grahl said what is interesting is how the focus on the class material has changed.

“Five years ago we had kids doing entirely different programs, like welding and automotive, and that has switched to more academic endeavors, and that is good to see,” he said. “It is of a new world in getting them out of the building.”

He said some of the recent classes have really been focused in on academics, and the number of students taking part has increased.

Board member Eric Smith said he feels it is a valuable program.

“It is a good opportunity and it does make a difference in helping them get ready for college,” he said.

In in other news the board heard several reports including the following:

Vice president Dr. Richard Bobian talked about the Manistee School Management Cooperative (MSMC) meeting. MSMC is the cooperative venture between Bear Lake and Kaleva Norman Dickson schools for shared services.

“We haven’t met for a while and there are some new members on it so we kind of went over the history of the co-op,” he said. “We discussed a holding a dinner for both districts at Bear Lake on Jan. 29 with someone from the Michigan Association of School Boards or Michigan School Administrators Association serving as speaker. Another thing we talked about was some strategic planning for the future.”

Bear Lake athletic director Karen Leinaar reported on the interest in a new girls cooperative soccer program with Bear Lake and Kaleva Norman Dickson.

“We have eight kids who expressed an interest in doing it in the spring, as some didn’t have a sport for that time,” she said. “Others want to do dual sports, and as long as they meet our criteria they will be allowed to do it. I would be doing the scheduling for it and the two districts would be splitting the cost. We would be playing at Brethren’s field, and they tell me that they have about 15 girls that are interested in playing this year.”

Leinaar said they can play up to 18 games, but she is looking at scheduling about 15 games for the team’s first season.

“We have to look at a lot of things in scheduling games because there are two schools and lots of things going on with proms and such things in the spring,” she said. “Right now (Brethren athletic director) Jason (Kemler) and I don’t have anyone in mind to serve as coach.”

Bear Lake’s next board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 13.



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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