Taking an eight-week English class, as well as a college success course, wasn’t how some recent high school graduates expected to spend much of their summer vacation.
But for a group of incoming freshmen at Western Nevada College, the opportunity to catch up in English and learn the secrets of studying for college courses at no cost was an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Thanks to a grant from AT&T, for a second summer, WNC’s Summer Bridge to Success program helped newly enrolled students brush up on writing skills necessary to pass a required English class, and supplied insight on how to succeed in college-level academics. Forty-six students from Carson City, Fallon, Douglas and Dayton high schools fulfilled requirements to pass English 99 and College Success classes in sessions at the Carson City and Fallon campuses.
“It’s a hard sell because it’s a big chunk of their summer, but they are seeing the value and getting some study skills,” said WNC counselor JW Lazzari. “They were able to be part of a really beneficial program to get them started on the right track.”
Brent John, a Douglas High School graduate, said the long-range benefit of summer schooling eased the pain of shortening his usual break from school.
“The only difficult part was that I wanted a summer more than I wanted to go to school,” John said. “I wasn’t able to work as much as I wanted this summer, but this is better because I’m going to get a career out of it.
“I see the benefit of it now. Now, I know what is expected of me in my classes.”
WNC celebrated its second class of Summer Bridge to Success students with a luncheon in Carson Nugget Community Hall at the college.
“The celebration (recognized) our Summer Bridge students and instructors for their hard work,” Lazzari said. He also thanked AT&T “for supporting the program through a generous grant.”
In addition, six Summer Bridge students received textbook scholarships through funding from the WNC Foundation and AT&T. WNC Foundation Director Katie Leao presented scholarships to Devin Miner, Teresa Soto, Brian Rosas and Kendall Schneider of Carson City, and Joseph Kellogg and Penelope Kerns of Fallon. Leao said faculty members in the program selected the students for their outstanding effort.
During the eight-week session, students attended classes four days/20 hours per week. The time commitment was fine with Kailyn Zielke of Fallon.
“To go through the program was good because I was able to catch up on classes I would have had to pay for, and it keeps me on track in schooling,” said Zielke, a Churchill County High School graduate.
Participating students recently graduated from Carson, Churchill County, Dayton, Douglas and Silver Stage high schools in Northern Nevada.
The English course provided instruction and skills in sentence patterns and paragraph development. It also gave the students a review of grammar, punctuation, spelling and word usage. EPY 150, “Strategies for Academic Success,” helped students develop effective and efficient study skills.
“I felt I learned a lot, especially writing papers,” said Tyler Aquino, a Dayton High School graduate. “I feel confident and encouraged that I’m going to do better.”
Zielke said English 99 strengthened her sentence structure and improved her word choice.
Although the students didn’t receive college credit for English 99 (they did earn three credits for the College Success course), the classes should assist them in passing English 101 for credit, and give them a better understanding of how to study for college classes. More important, it could provide the foundation for their college success and future.
“It definitely showed me what college life is like, class structure and how to take notes,” Zielke said.
WNC has learned in recent years that a key ingredient in achieving a college degree has been a student’s ability to pass English 101. Through placement testing in the students’ senior year of high school, the college’s counseling office is able to identify students who would benefit from additional preparation in English before beginning their first semester of college.
The celebration also included a prize raffle, and each Summer Bridge student was recognized and presented with a T-shirt proclaiming “I Survived Summer Bridge.” Drawing prizes included laptop computers, gift cards and electronic book readers. Students received a raffle ticket each time they utilized their peer mentor in the counseling office.