Springbank Community High School students prep for university ahead of the pack

A group of Grade 11 and 12 students from Springbank Community High School are skipping ahead a few grades this semester as they launch into university courses provided by Mount Royal University.

The 13 high school students are enrolled in Natural Sciences 1112, an elective introductory environmental science course co-taught at Springbank by a Mount Royal professor and a Springbank teacher.

The high school students are earning three university credits, as well as high school credits at the same time. Diana Fletcher, a Mount Royal professor who trades her time teaching between at the University and Springbank, explains that credit earning is only part of the advantage. The coursework prepares the high school students for writing, researching and communicating at a university level.

“They will come into university at an advantage,” says Fletcher.

The provincially-funded pilot project is part of the Alberta government’s dual credit strategy that started in 2008. This is the first year of partnership between Mount Royal and Springbank.

Springbank Community High School teacher Wendy Mcevoy and Mount Royal's Dean of the Faculty of Teaching and Learning, Jim Zimmer, talk to  Grade 11 students about dual credit course options through Mount Royal University.
— photo by, Marlena Cross

“Our students are receiving an outstanding overview of the current environmental issues that their generation will be charged with solving. The course has been approachable and engaging - perfect for our academically minded students," says Wendy Mcevoy, a Springbank teacher who shares her classroom with Fletcher.

There is some risk in taking the course. The final grade the students receive will be on their official university transcript. Students who wished to enroll must meet certain eligibility criteria and parents attended an information night hosted by Mount Royal to understand all the risks and rewards.

“My parents think it’s a great idea because I’m getting a head start on University,” says Daniel Jacobs, one of the Grade 11 students taking the course.

Before beginning their university studies, students were given a first-hand look at all offerings from the Faculty of Science and Technology in an meet-and-greet on the Mount Royal campus. They also received a library card to reference scholarly articles, required for the course.

"Mount Royal University's Faculty of Environmental Science has been a fabulous partner to Springbank Community High School in offering our dual credit course,” says Mcevoy. “Offering a university-credit environmental science course is unique in the province and we are proud of the work that this partnership has done to make the program a reality."

Marlena Cross — April 8, 2015