The coronavirus (COVID-19) schools closure ushered in a period of change for all Rockwood School District students. For the 30 seniors in the second year of the district's Early College Partnership
(ECP), it came at a time in which they were closing in on an associate degree as well as a high school diploma.
Even with the change to remote learning, ECP students have been able to rely on counseling and advising support from Rockwood and the district's partner, St. Louis Community College-Wildwood, as they prepare for the next phase of their lives.
"Rockwood and STLCC administration have worked tirelessly to make sure our ECP students have all the support they need in order to finish this semester successfully," said Todd Minichiello, Rockwood's coordinator of guidance and counseling. "We are making sure students not only feel confident academically but also feel supported socially and emotionally."
The ECP is a joint venture between Rockwood and STLCC-Wildwood in which juniors in the district's high schools can take two years of dual-enrollment classes to earn their associate degrees. This year, the second ECP cohort of 30 students is finishing up its final year while the newest cohort of 30 juniors is finishing its first.
About 20 percent of ECP courses were already conducted online at the beginning of this semester. For student in the other 80 percent, it's been more of an adjustment.
"A lot of the classes that I take, they have a lot of nuanced aspects that are easier to get in person," said ECP student Austin Ohley, a Marquette High
senior. "Having to get it through back-and-forth emails or direct messaging can be a little more difficult."
Ohley is taking seven courses this semester, including show choir at Marquette. He plans to start at the University of Missouri in the fall as a second-semester sophomore. He said STLCC's librarians, who are available 24/7, have been a huge help in finishing papers and assignments during online learning.
Hannah Basom, a senior at Lafayette High
and an ECP student was already taking two of her three courses online this semester, before the school closures forced her chemistry course online. She has been using online lesson plans and resources posted by one of her former teachers, Shannon Campbell, as part of Campbell's Alternative Learning Plan offerings for her Lafayette students.
lets me watch those and explains it to me in a different way," said Basom, who plans to study criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University. "And my STLCC teachers have been really communicative and open to answering my questions."
Minichiello has also been a consistent presence for the ECP students.
"Todd has helped us through a lot of stuff with this new adjustment, just helping make sure we're staying on track, that we're all still able to access all our resources and courses," said Rockwood Summit High
senior Ali Reeve, an ECP student. "STLCC has been really helping us troubleshoot any issues we've had and make sure any student is able to access what they're needing for school."
Reeve plans to enter nursing school in the fall. She, Ohley, Basom and the rest of the ECP students are still on track to keep earning dual credit and, for the seniors, complete their dual degrees.
"Being in the ECP has been awesome," Reeve said. "I've met new people I would never have been able to meet, learn things I would have never been exposed to. I've had opportunities to not only grow in my education but also grow as a person. For students looking for something outside of their regular high school, it's an amazing experience I would recommend to anyone who's willing to work for it."