Creating a new charter high school

"Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not?'" Robert Kennedy delivered this famous quote during his 1968 Presidential campaign. Kennedy's spirit excited an entire generation of Americans.

Well, I have a dream, and it's a dream that many people in Douglas County share with me. It's the dream of a high school that does not yet exist here, but it easily could. The dream is of a high school that would offer career and technical studies in high demand programs such as construction management, machine tool technology, automotive restoration, computer networking, nursing, deaf interpretation, and others. All these programs provide a path toward well-paying careers.

Now, I can already hear your questions. Doesn't it take a lot of expensive equipment? Who is going to design all these courses? Where do you find the teachers for these special programs?

These questions, and many others, have already been addressed and answered by innovative educators in both Reno and Las Vegas. Their solutions led to the creation of two of Nevada's most successful public high schools.

Truckee Meadows Community College High School was started in Reno back in the late 1990s. This very popular program is located at the main TMCC campus on Dandini Boulevard. TMCC High School offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to take college classes in career specialties while they are still finishing high school.

These students can graduate from TMCC High School with almost a full year of college courses completed. That's a great start toward a good paying career.

The College of Southern Nevada High School was started in Las Vegas in 1996 and is located at all three area CSN campuses. CSN High School operates in manner which is very similar to TMCC High School.

An important feature of a college high school is that the students adopt the college campus environment as their own.

This combined high school and college atmosphere gives students the opportunity to achieve academically and accept responsibility.

A college high school generally accepts only juniors and seniors. Incoming students who wish to enroll must apply for admission and be accepted.

Usually, students must be 16 years of age and have a minimum of junior status (two years of high school completed and 11 credits). They must also have a minimum GPA of 2.5 overall. Finally, students must have demonstrated good attendance and discipline.

These students get a head start on college. They earn dual credits toward both high school graduation as well as college certifications and degrees. They create their own individualized class schedules that meet their needs and interests.

They complete high school while starting post-secondary education and training. Finally, students receive technical and occupational skills training from college instructors in modern, well-equipped facilities.

The time has come to create a college high school in Douglas County through a partnership between Western Nevada College and the Douglas County School District. The students in Douglas County deserve a high quality vocational/technical high school. Let's make this dream come true.

- Dave Cook is a former member of the Nevada Board of Education representing Douglas County and Carson City.


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