New co-op classes offer students in three area districts more options

KINGSFORD HIGH SCHOOL student Arica Wickman, left, gives a presentation in the advanced anatomy class she is taking at Norway High School under a new curriculum co-op program between Norway, Kingsford and North Dickinson County high schools. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

(Editor’s note: Daily News Staff Writer Linda Lobeck had filed two stories for future use before her sudden death Wednesday. We are running these articles to illustrate and honor the fine work she did in her 34-year journalism career at The Daily News. She will be greatly missed.)

NORWAY — A pilot program that allows students to take certain classes among three neighboring Dickinson County school districts is doing well in its first semester, administrators said.

High school students at Norway, Kingsford and North Dickinson County are using this curriculum co-op program to take advantage of offerings not available at their own schools.

The biggest challenge in starting the program was logistics, Norway-Vulcan Area Schools Superintendent Lou Steigerwald said.

“That is, could we get our schedules to jibe with students getting back and forth on time, with available transportation?” he said.

Norway Principal Joe Tinti said his students can ride the Norway vocational bus that makes runs to both KHS and the tech center or can drive themselves with the proper paperwork.

KHS has two students from Norway and four from North Dickinson. The classes available include Advanced Placement Calculus, Advanced Physics, AP Chemistry and Senior Seminar.

“One of the greatest outcomes of the curriculum co-op for the students involved is knowing they are part of a community that truly cares about providing them with the best educational opportunities possible,” said Kendalynn Sutton, a teacher at KHS helping to coordinate the program.

North Dickinson has four students taking Computer Aided Design, or CAD, at Kingsford this semester using the vocational bus each morning, Superintendent Angel Inglese said.

“They are absolutely enjoying it,” Inglese said.

It’s working so well on a smaller scale the districts plan to expand the courses involved, both in morning and the afternoon, Steigerwald said.

A few North Dickinson students may take computer courses at Norway next semester, Steigerwald said.

“We have spoken about working together to possibly create a careers course that would be shared between the three districts and preliminary work is just starting on exploring that avenue,” Steigerwald said.

North Dickinson so far has no students attending from the other districts, since it is more difficult time-wise to get to Felch, Inglese said.

“We are hoping to offer courses through ITV to other districts, but it didn’t work out this year. So far, the program is working wonderfully. We are looking forward to expanding the partnership next year and being able to offer a larger course selection to our students,” Inglese said.

One KHS student goes to Norway High School each day for its advanced anatomy class taught by Dan Martell.

Arica Wickman said she saw it as a great opportunity to take a class that would prepare her for college. She is working on Certified Nursing Assistance, or CNA, qualifications at the Vocational Center as well as taking dual enrollment classes through Bay College toward a nursing degree.

“The content in my advanced anatomy class at Norway and my Bay College medical terminology class oftentimes mesh together,” Wickman said.

Without the co-op arrangement, her closest alternative would have been to take an online anatomy class.

“My Norway classmates are also very inclusive and welcoming — even students I don’t have class with are very helpful if I ever need anything or have questions,” she said.

The class at Norway, she added, is one of the favorite parts of her day.

“Mr. Martell does a really great job with letting us explore anatomy in our own way. I like the fact that oftentimes in our class discussions we can ask our burning questions and relate our chapter topics to real-life situations, rather than sitting in an hour of notetaking and lecture. I also like that our textbooks are all online. It is definitely a learning experience, being able to work on our own personal devices for classwork,” Wickman said.

“I don’t think this program is for everyone,” Wickman said, “but for motivated and driven individuals, this is a great opportunity that I hope others can be a part of in the future.”