Program Brings WJU Courses to Madonna, Central Students

By Colleen Rowan

WHEELING—Students at Madonna High School in Weirton and Central Catholic High School in Wheeling have the opportunity to receive college credits through a partnership with Wheeling Jesuit University.

Through the dual enrollment program, students at both schools receive instruction from WJU professors who teach a selection of college-level courses on site at the high schools.

“We offer a cross section of courses to students,” said Dr. Robert Phillips, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at WJU. “They have an opportunity to take college classes from exceptional professors. They can be exposed to a wide variety of courses through the program. It should enable them, no matter where they go to college, to feel more confident and well prepared.”

This is the second academic year that the program has been conducted.

“For me the biggest thing with the Jesuit program in our high schools is that it gives the kids not only the opportunity for the college educational experience, but it also gives them insight into what Jesuit means to the diocese and the state of West Virginia,” said Vincent de Paul Schmidt, superintendent of diocesan Catholic schools. “It is very important that the kids have experience of what higher education in a Catholic framework is all about, and Jesuit allows us to do that.”

One of the most important factors, Schmidt said, is that students have access to college-level courses at a reduced price. “They are getting a college class at the price of a summer workshop,” he said.

The following courses were offered in the fall at Madonna: English composition by Prof. Darci Hyman, statistics by Dr. Marc Brodie, general psychology by Prof. Kristin McCombs and form and function (biology) by Dr. Ken Rastall. The psychology course was taught at both Madonna and Central.  As McCombs was present at one school, students at the other school received a live video stream of her class.

This spring, the following courses will be offered at Madonna: pre calculus by Dr. Marc Brodie and advanced composition by Prof. Darci Hyman. At Madonna, the WJU courses saw an enrollment of seven students the first year and almost 30 students this year.

“We have professors from a recognized, reputable, four-year college who are giving our kids a sense of what a college course is,” said Steve Grasser, principal of Madonna. “The rigor of these courses is excellent. We have set it up so that the courses they are taking are courses that will be beneficial regardless of what students are going to be majoring in.”

Grasser said the partnership with WJU introduces Madonna students to the state’s only Catholic university.

“Taking classes from Wheeling Jesuit has been a great experience,” said Emily Fournier, a senior at Madonna. “They really helped me understand how college works while still being in a high school environment.  I definitely feel more prepared for college after taking these classes.”

Thomas Stanley, a senior at Central, was one of 12 students enrolled in general psychology. “The opportunity to take a college course from WJU has given me insight into what to expect for my future college education,” Stanley said. “It is a real advantage having our WJU professor on site at CCHS to allow my classmates and I to earn college credit, experience a challenging college course and earn credit towards high school graduation.”

“We value our partnership with Wheeling Jesuit University and are pleased to share in their tradition of educational excellence and service to others,” said Rebecca Sancomb, principal of Central. “Their willingness to provide our students access to their courses and professors at our school opens up many opportunities for our students. We look forward to continuing growing our partnership with them.”