Originally created 05/22/01

One step ahead



Nan Palmer is past senioritis.

She's pretty much past senior year, and graduation is a formality.

The Burke County High School senior participated in her school's Post-Secondary Options program, which allowed her to take courses at Augusta State University. Like others in similar academic programs - or in cooperative work programs - she appreciated the opportunity but admits there was a tradeoff.

Being in a post-high school environment made her senior year seem a little less special, she said.

"While all my friends are like, 'Yay, I'm a senior!' I'm just kind of like, 'Listen, high school's not what it's cracked up to be,"' she said. "College is so much more. Graduation, yeah, it's fun, and this has helped me not be as nervous, thinking about going off to school, because I've already been exposed to that environment. But overall, graduation isn't as pumped up as it could be."

For many students, graduation isn't the giant step into the adult world it's made out to be - they've already had one foot in the door. Some got experience through joint-enrollment and cooperative work programs. Others turned to those programs to escape high school.

"I was kind of sick of high school," said Stephanie Bartasis, 17, a senior at Lakeside High School who took psychology and communications classes at Augusta State during spring semester. "After being there for 3 1/2 years, I was like, OK, it's time to look at something else. Oh my gosh, I felt more like an adult. They treated you like an adult, like you were responsible for doing what you had to. And it felt like they valued your opinion about the courses. In high school, I always felt more like I was stuck in this little world with these little rules."

Rachel Praitano, 18, participated in Lakeside's cooperative work program because she got to leave school early. She spent her afternoons doing billing for anesthesiologists at University Hospital.

"Truthfully, that's the only reason I did it," she said with a laugh. "I didn't really feel like I missed anything, other than staying at school all day. It really didn't cut into my extracurricular activities - but I've had a job ever since I was 16."

The tradeoff, many agree, is worth it in the end.

"I didn't get to do as much with clubs and stuff, but I didn't really feel like I missed out on my senior year," said Jenna Williams, 17, who did bookkeeping for First National Bank through Burke County High's Cooperative Business Education program.

Jenna joined the program because she needed only four classes to complete her graduation requirements and didn't want to sit in study hall all day. She left school at 12:20 p.m. each day and worked from 1 to 5 p.m.

"I really got to like it," she said.

"Overall, it was a great opportunity, and I would recommend it to others," Nan said of her Augusta State experience. But now that it's over, it's time for a break.

"I'm not going to work this summer," Rachel said with a laugh. "I have a lot of trips planned."

Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.


Extracurricular activities

Cooperative work programs, sometimes called school-to-work programs, allow students to earn academic credit for time on a job. Students generally leave school early and spend their final class periods, and part of their afternoon, at the work place. A standard schedule is a four-hour block from 1 to 5 p.m. several days a week.

Joint-enrollment programs allow students to take advanced classes at area universities, colleges and technical schools, earning both high school and college credit.

For more information, contact your school's guidance office.