A new program from UAA is coming to Bethel this fall. Students who participate will earn high school and college credit. The goal would be to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, or even a bachelor’s degree, from the University of Alaska system.
The program is called the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program Acceleration Academy. ANSEP is starting up the academy in Bethel in August 2021. Lower Kuskokwim School District students are able to participate this year.
The Acceleration Academy has been expanding throughout Alaska. The main academy is in Anchorage and the second is in Palmer. Bethel will be the academy’s third location, and the first in a rural area off of the road system. Tad Lindley, a retired teacher from LKSD, will be leading the Bethel program. He’s the regional director for ANSEP in Western Alaska.
“I think for kids who have an intense love of learning and want to move forward faster, this is an outstanding opportunity,” Lindley said.
Lindley called Bethel “the ideal spot” for the academy. The Lower Kuskokwim School District has a strong relationship with ANSEP. Students from LKSD attend many of ANSEP’s programs, and Bethel has the infrastructure to make the academy happen. ANSEP has partnered with the UAF Kuskokwim Campus and LKSD for classes and student housing.
“It's a win for everybody involved,” Lindley said.
Students can start in 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, and end their senior year of high school in the academy. They would take all their classes, both high school and college credits, at the UAF Kuskokwim Campus. Classes will be online or in person, depending on the professors available.
“So they'll actually be able to graduate from LKSD as a high school student, but some of those kids, if it's their goal, may actually walk in the [UAF Kuskokwim Campus] graduation with an associate's degree before they even graduate high school,” Lindley said.
Lindley hopes that 20 students participate this school year. LKSD will pay for 10 students to attend, and ANSEP will cover the rest of the students. Up to five students from LKSD villages outside of Bethel will be able to attend and be housed at the LKSD dorms.
“I would encourage students to join because first of all, you'll save a lot of money in terms of college,” Lindely said.
ANSEP estimates participants could save up to $75,000 in college expenses.
Although ANSEP leans towards science and engineering degrees, students can take classes outside of these areas.
“Even if they want to be a writer, or an English teacher, or political science major. It's open to whatever discipline students are focusing on,” Lindley said.
The academy would follow the college academic calendar. Classes start later in August and end earlier in May than LKSD. School day hours would be around 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m.
To qualify for the ANSEP Acceleration Academy, students must pass tests to place into college courses in math and English. Students who are not Alaska Native can also apply. Applications can be submitted online. Lindley can also distribute paper applications; he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.