‘New approach’ in school district sees first graduate | SummitDaily.com

‘New approach’ in school district sees first graduate

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

SILVERTHORNE ” A program offering local high school dropouts opportunity to earn diplomas will graduate its first student Monday.

Nik Backe, 18, plans to attend Frontier School of the Bible in Wyoming before perhaps transferring to Colorado State University. He dropped out of Summit High School after freshman year to begin home school ” instead he started working retail.

“I did not do well in a classroom environment. I was failing all my classes,” Backe said.

He’s completed the Diploma Opportunity Resource program offered through the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services. The program has been in Summit County about a year and a half, and isn’t connected with the school district. About 18 students are enrolled, said program director Drew Grimes.

“It’s not the kids coming from the high school coming over here ” we go into the community and reach a new population of students. It’s a new approach,” he said.

The students work at their own paces and much of the core curriculum is learned from computer software. Backe completed the program in about a year.

The graduation ceremony is Monday at the Summit Education Center. Grimes said he expects three or four more students to graduate by December. Not everyone finishes in the same amount of time; some take longer because of multiple jobs and children.

Grimes said that as the first graduate, Backe has “really helped shape the program,” blazing a trail through the its more subjective aspects. Students graduate with a portfolio rather than a set of grades, and they assemble it based on career focus.

“It should really be reflective of a person’s interests,” Grimes said. “Nick loves TV shows and stuff like that.”

Some of Backe’s projects involved cameras and video editing. He also completed a research paper that called for skills in organizing ideas and citing sources.

“I’m showing how the number of shark attacks goes up each year according to the increase of people going to the beach this year,” Backe said, adding that his research shows sharks aren’t becoming more aggressive.

He said that though he enjoys film, “it’s complicated and I feel you’re never really certain that you’ve nailed down a career.”

In college he plans to pursue a business degree and perhaps become a financial planner, similar to his parents. Today, he’s managed to obtain a diploma only a few weeks after he would have graduated from the high school.

Grimes said there have been talks of making the program part of the school district, but that it’s a bit early.

“Everyone wants to make sure they know what they’re getting into before they take over,” he said.

Grimes said the program is offered in both English and Spanish. It is financed for through the government and enrollment is open.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

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