QA with Dr. Isaac Espy: DHS, Alabama Southern offer dual enrollment

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Demopolis High School has partnered up with Alabama Southern, can you elaborate on the high school&8217;s connection with the community college?

Alabama Southern Community College was introduced here in Demopolis in the spring of 2005 and I felt like it would be an outstanding resource for our high school students who were highly motivated and wanted to get a jump on their college career. Sometimes the transition from high school to college can be difficult. Students find themselves away from home for the first time, they struggle with the transition from a high school classroom to a college classroom. Alabama Southern Community College is a state-of-the-art secondary school. It&8217;s high tech, they have outstanding instructors there and we felt like it would be a resource that we wanted to tap into for our high school students. Dollar for dollar, it&8217;s a great bargain and we felt like that would make our parents happy. When you look at the cost per semester hour, and you factor in

away from home living costs like the cost of living in a dorm and all the other costs associated with college, we have parents that are very happy with this.

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.As part of this partnership DHS is offering a dual enrollment program, what will this offer for students?

This will be our second year of the dual enrollment program. It is for 11th and 12th grade students with a B average. Also we require that they pass all five sections of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam before we turn them loose.

Most of the classes are Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, so if they have class two days a week, then they can go to work, go home, or go to the river. That&8217;s attractive to students to have a little bit of flexibility with their schedules.

We are able to offer students, through the dual enrollment program, electives that we normally couldn&8217;t teach here. An example would be History of the Old Testament or History of the New Testament, psychology, ethics and philosophy courses. Those are just some of the many benefits of the dual enrollment program. We&8217;ve worked to try to develop some scholarship opportunities, and most of them will be available in the spring.

The students are bona fide college students when they enroll in the program. They pay tuition, they buy books, they pay fees. They are responsible for going to class, we don&8217;t follow them over there. We figure if they&8217;re motivated enough to go through all the trouble of enrolling in college, then they&8217;ll do well. Their grades become a permanent part of their college record and their high school record. But most of our students are very motivated and very responsible.

How are you feeling about the new faculty and new programs for this upcoming school year?

I&8217;ve never felt greater anticipation about an upcoming school year. Our faculty here is outstanding, and the new faculty members coming on board have outstanding credentials. These people are &8220;on fire.&8221; I&8217;m truly looking forward to working with them, I think our students and parents will know what I mean. I wouldn&8217;t trade them for anybody.

Are there any plans for expansion, both physically and academically, for this upcoming school year?

Some time during the school year we will begin construction on four new classrooms for the high school. We passed capacity two years ago. We will certainly begin construction on the stadium, which will be on the high school campus here.

Also this coming school year we will be a bona fide arts initiative school. We have gone from essentially a one semester elective drama course to a full time drama program. This is part of a Black Belt Arts Initiative grant. Jody White is our drama and theater instructor, her classroom is now the auditorium. We will offer advanced theater production courses and advanced theater courses. Of course our visual arts programs, choral and band programs are strong here.

Of course in our athletic program, there are a lot of new faces, a new football coach, a new baseball coach. They&8217;ve brought some new looks, new energy and new excitement to the athletic program. We&8217;re all very excited about fall football season, to see how Coach Causey and his troops will do.

Our JROTC program spent a week in summer camp this past summer. It&8217;s a state-of-the-art JROTC program in Alabama

We&8217;re in the process of adding additional AP courses, such as an English advanced placement course. We&8217;re excited about that. It&8217;s a real step up any time a school can add an advanced placement course.

We also have another new coach in town, he&8217;ll coach our Math team. Kenneth Webb will work with our Math team and teach courses. This will be his first year at Demopolis High School. He&8217;s a veteran teacher from Hale County and Tuscaloosa City Schools.

We will also have a graduation on July 20 at 7 p.m. in the Demopolis High School Auditorium. That&8217;s for our senior class members who were summer graduates. We will have a full-fledged cap and gown graduation and we want to invite any community members. We won&8217;t have to worry about rain at this graduation. These are seven young people that hung in there, worked hard and didn&8217;t give up. We are very proud of them.