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News Story

Student success the goal of Nicolet partnerships with PK-12 districts


March 12, 2013

Every year about 2,000 students take credit classes at Nicolet College. But did you know about just as many area elementary, middle, and high school students participate annually in Nicolet activities created just for them?

It’s true.

Earning college credits while in high school, exploring a wide variety of careers, sharpening academic skills, taking in educational theater events, and learning about college life in general are just some of the activities.

heavy metal tourKey to making these successful has been the strong relationship Nicolet College has built with the eleven PK-12 school districts in the Nicolet College District, said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.

“The focus of these partnerships is to prepare students for college so they can get the skills necessary to be successful in their careers,” Burmaster said. “By working together, we’ve been able to smooth the pathway to higher education and make it easier for students to make the transition to college.”

Lakeland Union High School Superintendent Todd Kleinhans said it’s been exciting to see how the partnership between the high school and Nicolet has grown in recent years.

“The partnership today is stronger than ever,” Kleinhans told the Nicolet College Board of Trustees during a meeting the board recently held in Minocqua. “Both the high school and the college have a shared vision that places a strong emphasis on getting students college-ready and career-ready. We are thrilled at how well this partnership has been working and we look forward to making it even stronger in the future.”

In all, Nicolet has in place nearly two dozen different programs, activities and services with all of the school districts within the Nicolet District.

These include:

College in the High School Classroom

Hundreds of Northwoods high school students earn college credits every year without ever leaving their school.

“This gives them a great jump-start on college,” Burmaster said. “By earning college credits while still in high school, they shorten the amount of time they actually spend in college which can translate into a fairly significant cost savings.”

Every year about 200 high school students earn both high school and Nicolet College credits through the College in the Classroom program. These classes are taught by college-certified instructors in the high schools and include a wide range of academic subjects.

Nicolet also offers a Youth Options program, where high school students take college classes on the Nicolet campus. Currently, 62 high school students are attending Nicolet classes through the Youth Options program.

In the Lakeland and Tomahawk high schools, Nicolet offers Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) classes. So far more than 50 students have received this professional certification through Nicolet classes held at these locations. This coming fall Nicolet CNA classes will also be taught at Rhinelander High School.


PreCollege Academies

For the past two years Nicolet has held PreCollege Academies for high school freshmen and sophomores. Each academy met for five consecutive Saturdays and gave students the opportunity to explore careers and sharpen academic skills in environmental science, engineering, and health occupations. To date, more than 100 students from throughout the Northwoods have participated in PreCollege Academies.


Heavy Metal Tour

This past October about 350 8th graders converged on the Nicolet Campus for the Heavy Metal Tour. The day-long event gave students the opportunity to explore careers in manufacturing and the trades. During the day students toured six area manufacturing plants, Nicolet labs and classrooms, and attended presentations in the Nicolet Theatre to hear from manufacturing professionals about careers in the field. The event will be held again in 2013.


College Camp

This perennial favorite gives Northwoods sixth through ninth graders the chance to explore numerous different careers in fun, hands-on classes held afternoons for one week in the summer.

“Learning should be fun,” Burmaster said. “When it’s fun, students are engaged, and when they are engaged, they are learning.”

Examples of classes have included Lake Ecology, Solar Sprint, Sports Engineering, Crime Scene Investigation, Middle School Marketplace, Joining the Geek Squad Can Be Cool, and Rock and Roll 101. The next College Camp will be held in August. 


Lego Camp

Engineering, problem-solving and communication skills are the focus of Lego Camp at Nicolet held during the summer for first through sixth graders. The half-day, week-long event have students building a variety of creations using specially designed Lego kits complete with electric motors.

The older children are challenged with creating robots which they then send into battle to see whose was the most nimble and durable.

“They had a great time cheering on their favorites. It really was a lot of fun,” said Jodi Fox, camp and Continuing Education coordinator at Nicolet.

Lego Camp will be held again this coming summer.


The Amazing Race

This past fall 50 6th through 8th graders from North Lakeland School participated in the Amazing Race on the Nicolet Campus. The event had students darting between Nicolet labs and classrooms, answering questions about careers and college at each location. 


Campus Tours and Visits

Numerous times throughout the year the college invites students to campus to learn what the college has to offer and to give them an overall feel for Nicolet.

“Time and again we hear from students how nervous they were coming onto campus let alone walking through any of the buildings,” said Teri Phalin, PK-16 coordinator and career coach at Nicolet. “To be successful, it’s important for students to be comfortable with their surroundings. All of the tours, open houses and campus visits provide students with information about the college as well as letting them get a sense for what it is like to be a student at Nicolet. These are important for helping a student decide if Nicolet is right for them.”


Welding, Auto Tech and Carpentry Competitions

Every year dozens of high school students exploring careers in the trades converge on the Nicolet campus to test their abilities in friendly competitions.

Along with fine-tuning their skills, “students also learn what it takes to be successful in these fields and what kind of training they will need,” Phalin said. “They see that it takes solid math skills, good communication skills, plus they have to know how to work as a team and solve problems.”