"So any tuition that is charged for an academic class or a vocational is paid for by the grant, any books, any fees, any transportation," explains Superintendent Reggy Spencer.
A federal grant called Youth CareerConnect allowed the district to create Colorado Career Academy, a program that allows students to take college courses in high school, free of charge. The district has a partnership with TSTC and Western College.
"Every student is going to get the opportunity to get an education, a world class education that will actually give them a certification or a step in the right direction as far as college is concerned," explains Principal, Mark Merrell.
Students that are freshmen now will have the ability to graduate with an average of 36-42 hours of college credit. One freshman student explains that she sees the career academy as a way to get a head start. "Yeah I am pretty excited because by the time I get out there, I can graduate sooner and get a job earlier, and make an income faster and be able to support a family and what not," says Sara Roach.
Some students say that this program has changed the way they think of college, now that expenses for so many classes can be covered. "If I didn't have this opportunity, I probably wouldn't have went to college, but since I have this, I am probably gonna go to college," explains freshman, Daniel Meguire.
More students being college ready or career ready when they graduate high school is exactly what Superintendent Spencer hoped for when he had a vision for this program years ago.
"It gives me goosebumps to hear that a kid said 'Hey I didn't think I had the opportunity, but now I do'," says Spencer.
Although upperclassmen won't have as long to rack up these free college courses, some say they are thankful for the ones they are enrolled in this semester. "It makes me feel really great to know that our school is giving us that chance, to know that we finally have it. I think its something that we have all always wanted, and now that we have it, we are really happy for it," says Senior, Desiree Martinez.