Adjacent campuses bolster shared learning opportunities for School District 1 and Trinidad State
Trinidad Campus / October 17, 2016 / Written by Greg Boyce
Decades ago likely no one thought of the possibilities when Trinidad State, Trinidad Middle School and Trinidad High School were all built on contiguous land to the west of downtown. Then a state law passed in 2009 pushed educators to think in different ways, while allowing high school students (9th grade and older) to take college level classes. That system has allowed many Colorado students to graduate from college even before they get a high school diploma.
Two of the 10 high school students who help make up the college Robotics Team are ninth graders from Trinidad High School. Tony Arant and Lizzie Eckes skip two and a half hours of high school class each Friday so they can build robots at the college. Arant says he spends part of Saturday catching up on the high school classes he missed.
While some high schoolers come to Trinidad State from Hoehne and even farther, the students at Trinidad High School can be across the street and in a college classroom in minutes. Senior Kamre Cortez has wanted to go into the automotive industry, but is finding welding is satisfying. She and a half dozen other Trinidad High School students come to the college welding lab every Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 4. A day after laying down her first bead using the TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) method, Instructor Geoff Fullerton declares her a natural. Her first attempts are straight and smooth. “It’s sometimes hard to get all the different movements with both your hands and foot,” said Cortez during a break. She thought welding would be good to know in the automotive field, but “I’m now thinking about doing welding, because I actually really like it.”
“The opportunity for a high school student to take college classes at a reduced cost is a powerful option,” said Trinidad State President Dr. Carmen Simone. “Students from across southern Colorado are taking advantage, both here in Trinidad and in the San Luis Valley through our Alamosa Campus. But it’s even better when that student is only a couple of minutes away. In many ways Trinidad High School has almost instant access to college-level resources. We didn’t plan it, but we’ll certainly continue to use that proximity to help those students.”
Meanwhile at the college library, Trinidad High School Junior Asia Archibeque shows a pile of books she’s restoring. She attended a leadership conference over the summer in Denver and was inspired to become a community volunteer. Her commitment has been impressive. “So far I have about 200 hours of volunteering here since July,” she said. She started dusting and then moved on to book repair. She’s now fixing bindings and repairing covers. “And sometimes I get lucky and get to watch the front counter and answer phone calls.” She chose Trinidad State’s library because she loves books and the location is close to her home and high school. She comes in at the end of her high school day pretty much every day.
And it goes both ways. College Physics Professor Bob Philbin heads across the street each day to spend an hour teaching a math course at Trinidad High School.
“Last year when we didn’t have an on-campus IT person we shared that person with (the college),” said School District 1 Superintendent Scott Mader. “This is ideal, being right across the street.” Mader makes a point that college recruiters have long known – if a potential student gets comfortable on a college campus, they’re more likely to attend in the future. “That’s a big advantage,” said Mader. “The kids get used to the college, they’re familiar with it, and it’s not a foreign place when they graduate (high school). I think it helps.”
Mader said he and Simone have had many discussions about resource sharing. “If I was building a new campus, I wouldn’t have it any different. I might even mix it together even more.”