SHERIDAN — Twenty Sheridan High School students will begin orientation Aug. 24 at Sheridan College through the new John C. Schiffer Collaborative School dual enrollment pilot program.
An additional 52 students, with 10 more applications pending, will join the SHS students as traditional high school students on the Sheridan College campus.
“The whole idea of this school that we’re developing, the John C. Schiffer Collaborative School, one of the fundamental components is that it’s a collegiate high school where kids, if they’re ready for it and they can handle it, are in high school and college at the same time,” said Mitch Craft, assistant superintendent at SCSD2.
“And where a kid who works really hard and is focused can walk across two stages and receive two diplomas or one diploma and a certificate at the same time.”
The John C. Schiffer Collaborative School replaces what used to be known as Ft. Mackenzie High School before the Wyoming Facilities Commission condemned the old Highland Park building where the alternative school was located.
Craft said school staff knew the building remained No. 1 on the state’s need index list, meaning it was deemed in the worst condition, and needed a new home for the students attending the alternative school. Sheridan College graciously entered into a three-year lease agreement with SCSD2 to allow the 52 students to attend high school on its campus. A building for the new collaborative school is in the long-term plan, but will likely not see fruition for three to five years.
The pilot program and the traditional high school students differ based on need.
“We identified kids that were surviving but not thriving in the traditional high school paradigm,” Craft said of the pilot program. “They’re getting by, but it doesn’t really fit for them. We’re really trying to think more creatively about what the high school experience looks like. One size fits all just does not work.”
Those students will meet with an SHS counselors once a week t
o maintain requirements needed for high school graduation. SCSD2 completed a nomination process for the pilot program and followed up with the students and their parents with an application for the program. The group will attend 50 percent of their classes at the college.
Students in the traditional collaborative school will complete a more traditional-looking high school day with a bell schedule and set class times between 8:20 a.m. and 3:25 p.m.
“This is just what we have going right now,” Craft told the Northern Wyoming Community College District Board of Trustees during the Aug. 16 meeting. “You probably heard a little bit of something about all of these, but they’re all forward thinking, important programs that connect our district to your college and make a really big difference for the community and for kids.”
Although Sheridan County School Districts 1 and 3 students and Johnson County students are not enrolled for either program as part of the collaborative school this year, Craft and SC President Dr. Paul Young said they look to include students from those districts in coming years.
“Some of these have the potential to blow up and really be a big deal in the future and we’re really excited about that,” Craft said.
The relationship between SCSD2 and Sheridan College remains strong.
“We really have a tremendous relationship, and just when you think things can’t get better, it does and Mitch has a lot to do with that,” Young said. “We have so many things going on with District 2 that it’s almost impossible to (discuss all of it).”
Northern Wyoming Community College District board treasurer Robert Leibrich saw the programs as great potential for advancement in Sheridan’s education system.
“I just love the dual enrollment,” he said. “We’ve been going to different conferences over the last eight years and it’s happening out there and it’s so refreshing to see it come to Sheridan. It’s great.”