Community college gives high schoolers sneak peek

Dan Pelle photo

Krysta O’Brien, right, of Mt. Spokane High School, uses a pulse oximeter to measure the oxygen levels of Rebecca McNall, left, of Cheney High School, during a tour of Spokane Community College’s career-technical programs.

February 21, 2013 - Updated: 5:51 a.m.

Krysta O’Brien, 17, explored her classmate’s carotid artery using an ultrasound machine at Spokane Community College; in another room, she learned about respiratory care.

Walking a law enforcement obstacle course on the college’s track, 18-year-old Dustin Knodel, along with dozens of other high school students, was learning about SCC’s criminal justice program.

“I knew they had one, but not this good,” he said of the program.

The two were among more than 425 regional high school students who converged on SCC Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The students, already taking professional and technical courses at Spokane Public Schools’ Northeast Washington Technical Skill Center, were there to learn what programs offered at the college align with programs they are already involved in.

The first-time event, Community Colleges Connection, is the result of collaboration between Community Colleges of Spokane and Spokane Public Schools. Students experienced a sampling of college classes in several career-technical programs, such as health care, manufacturing, information technology, automotive technology, culinary arts and criminal justice.

Community Colleges of Spokane offers 45 professional-technical programs.

“We wanted to get them to the college to experience the site,” said Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger.

“To start thinking, I could go here. I could do this.”

The goal for the Skill Center students was “to give them a true hands-on experience at the college in companion programs or areas of interest,” said Dave Cox, Community Colleges of Spokane’s dean for instruction in the technical education division.

On Wednesday, college staff members also talked to the students about what was needed to attend the community colleges, the importance of applying early for financial aid and the process of signing up for classes.

This gave them “a reality check, if you will, in making sure they don’t procrastinate,” Cox said.

Spokane Public Schools and the Community Colleges of Spokane are committed to continuing this program annually, officials said. Also, more college-credit courses will be available at Skill Center this fall that will easily transfer to similar programs in CCS.

At the end of the day, “our consensus was that this was a big step about their possibilities here at the college,” Cox said.

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