Bitney Prep High School students explore the future
Every year, sophomores at Bitney Prep High School take a two-day field trip to visit area community colleges, trade schools, private and public colleges. In the past, students have toured educational offerings like American River College, Stanford University, a Web Developer’s Boot Camp in San Francisco, the Pipe Fitters Union Training Facility in Santa Rosa, the Arts Institute, Sac State, SAE Expression College in Emeryville, Sierra College in Rocklin, and the University of California in Santa Cruz. “We want all of our students to have a well-rounded vision of where they might end up in the future,” says Bitney Prep Director Jonathan Molnar. “We know that not all of our students are thinking about attending college directly after high school. We want them to see that it could be an option for them.”
In the last four years, Bitney Prep High School in the Brunswick Basin area of Grass Valley has pivoted away from its college preparatory roots and has changed its focus towards its internship program. They did so because they began to see the realities of the lives of their students. Studies have shown that among California public high school students after graduation, 37% enroll in a two-year college, while only 26% of them enroll in a four-year college. The staff at Bitney Prep feel that they have a chance of improving these statistics by helping students make the connection between the world of higher education and the world of work.
“We think our kids have a better understanding of the importance of college or trade schools because of their experiences in their internships. When students connect to a profession they love, they have more buy-in to participate in the steps necessary to get them in that position. Many of the mentors our students intern with stress the need for further education after high school. Our students, therefore, attend college with a purpose. It’s our sense that this will help them be more successful.” says Molnar. “The Sophomore College trip is all part of this experience for our students.”
This year, Bitney Sophomores went to American River College, Sac City College, Sac State, UC Davis, and Sierra College Rocklin. “It was great to see all the different options out there,” says sophomore Elijah Ramirez. “We really got a sense of the different opportunities. Plus, we got to hang out and really get to know each other better.”
As well as offering college focused events like the College Trip, Bitney also has a number of students taking advantage of the dual enrollment opportunities offered at Sierra College. Whether ceramics or American Sign Language, Calculus or Government, Sierra College offers educational opportunities that a small school like Bitney just can’t. “We’ve got a special relationship with Sierra College that allows our students to really pursue what they are interested in,” says Molnar. “And we do all that we can to support our students who are fully engaged in their future.”
Bitney’s 95 or so students each spend all day, every Wednesday, at an internship of their choice. Through this program, they learn from local business professionals and discover which career path may be right for them. Bitney has student interns all over the county, at local veterinarian hospitals, radio stations, artist studios, newspapers, automotive repair shops, elementary schools, and other small businesses of every shape and size.
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“One Student at a Time” and “Real World Learning” are not just meaningless catchphrases at Bitney Prep Charter High School, they are guiding principles. Nowhere is this better seen than in their commitment to their…