Students run for a head start on education

Some students from the 2020 graduating class are planning on pursuing their education outside of RAHS through Running Start. The program provides students an opportunity to, in many cases, take college level courses at their local college whilst still enrolled in high school. Participation includes graduating with an associates degree. Although the choice of where students go to further their education is their decision, the unintended consequences of this will significantly affect the financial support the school receives.
Although many sophomores are unsure if they will participate, it is a looming thought. Sophomore McKenzie Firestone believes Running Start will help her in ways that a regular general education here at RAHS wouldn’t, and that it will open more doors for her.
“Doing Running Start my senior year is the best choice for me because I will have my primary education at RAHS and so I will have that on my resume as well as Running Start,” said Firestone. “So I have the opportunity to get more scholarships, internships and opportunities through the school [RAHS] on top of a year of college credits.”
Running Start does remain a concern, especially because it results in decreasing attendance. School counselor Katie Carper believes students committing to the Running Start program detract from the school’s mission and deviate from commitments the students made at the beginning of their education at RAHS.
“We definitely wouldn’t exist in the same way if kids just came in and did Running Start in huge numbers after two years,” said Carper. “That’s what that commitment is about.”
Math teacher Karen Wilson says that Running Start is detrimental to the school because of its impact on the school’s finances. This is especially important because RAHS is a small community that may not be able to afford loss of student funding and participation.
“Schools get to keep about 7 percent of the cost of the money that would come in from the state to be able to handle their own administrative work of having that person on their roll,” said Wilson, “but then 93 percent of the money goes to the college that they are attending, so [the school does] lose funding.”
Wilson also believes that students must be ready in order to handle an advanced course that jumps two years of high school education.
“Choose wisely because in my opinion, if you are choosing to do Running Start, you are saying that you are so smart and so complete with your education that you can skip two years of high school to jump right into college classes,” said Wilson.
Running Start would also lead to depleting participation in RAHS concentrated electives and curriculums, which form the basis to the schools mission for educating STEM interested minds. For a small school, this participation is necessary to keep the classes going. That being said, Carper feels that the school supports Running Start, even if they encourage students to remain at RAHS.
“We have to support Running Start if students have [already] tried their best to get what they can from Aviation and for whatever reason, Running Start is the best option for them,” said Carper. “Then as of right now, [and this can always change], they go to Running Start from Aviation and remain Raisbeck Aviation students.”
Running Start is a popular topic among the minds of the sophomore class who are doubtful about the program. Sophomore Mekias Kebede believes although it may question student commitments, teachers should provide information for interested students. Regardless, students should prepare well in order to participate in Running Start.
“Running Start is a great program in my opinion that shouldn’t be so hidden from students,” said Kebede, “but it is a program that is entirely dependant on your own needs as a student. So choose wisely and research all your options.”
Kebede recommends the program but only under certain circumstances since it is a concern to a small school. He encourages that participation should be dependent on comfortability in the school environment.
“I would not suggest [it] if you don’t have strong pressing issues with this school limiting your capabilities and not being able to maximize your potential,” said Kebede.
Sophomores Anusha Gani believes the program would enhance her education because of a larger diversity in courses. But, Gani chose not to participate as she realizes the big steps she would have to take in order to succeed.
“I was considering Running Start because of the diversity of the courses, new social environment, and the ability to obtain college credit made it very appealing to me,” said Gani. “However, I am not going to participate in Running Start as you are essentially jumping from a high school sophomore to a college freshman.”

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