Hundreds of students at Liberty High School are preparing to get their high school diplomas. More than 60 of them already are working toward their college degrees.
They are part of Liberty’s 12-13 program, which offers college-level courses after normal school hours.
Like many others in the program, senior Henna Sousa stays until 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for her English 101 and biology 101 courses.
“It is hard but definitely doable,” Sousa said. “It gets stressful at times, but if you work hard and study, it pays off in the long run.”
Sousa hopes to attend the University of California, Berkeley.
“It’s helping me learn what to expect for my future education,” Sousa said, referring to the tougher course load.
The program started in January with two classes — English 101 and biology 101 — and 32 students.
Liberty added English 102 for the fall semester, and enrollment doubled.
Principal Jeff Geihs expects enrollment to blossom as more classes are added. Geihs would like to see nine college courses offered by the beginning of next school year.
Courses such as math, social studies, anthropology, geology, marketing, communications and more are expected to be offered, as long as there is a minimum enrollment of 15 students in each class. High school teachers and professors from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have expressed interest in teaching. Geihs said he would teach the communications class if he is needed.
The 12-13 program is open to juniors and seniors at the school, 3700 Liberty Heights Ave., and students could complete their first year of college before graduating high school, Geihs said.
“It’s my intent to build this program up to full capacity,” Geihs said. “That means we’ll be running classes from 2 to 9 o’clock at night.
“I believe in a year or two’s time, we’re going to have a mini community college campus at Liberty.”
Liberty counselor Ralph Iavazzi heads the program and has an orientation with parents before their students start the program. After the inaugural semester, some students did not realize there would be so much work outside the classroom, he said.
“It was an eye-opener to some of them,” Iavazzi said. “Most of the students did feel a sense of accomplishment.”
Students also earn dual credit for high school, which opens up opportunities for students to take elective courses, especially in their senior year, Iavazzi said.
Students pay the standard $69.25 per credit hour to the College of Southern Nevada, plus books and fees.
For those who take part in the program while in high school, they can continue to take CSN classes at Liberty for up to one year after graduation.
The ability to stay for 13th grade at Liberty is what makes the program unique, Iavazzi said. It is an attractive option for students who live close to Liberty and because afternoon classes are in high demand at CSN. Liberty students also will have smaller class sizes because of the overwhelming demand for first-year core classes at colleges and universities.
Geihs said he hopes Liberty can serve as a model for other high schools in the district.
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-5524.