New college courses make the grade at semester’s end

Williamsport Area High School began offering two new college level courses at the start of the school year and, as the first semester draws to a close, favorable results have emerged.

With students averaging scores of 90 or above, the newly offered, three-credit courses, Technical Algebra and Trigonometry I and The Plastics Industry, are leaving district administrators, teachers – and even classmates – impressed.

The two courses are an addition to a list of the more than 20 introductory college level courses already available at WAHS through Penn College NOW, a dual enrollment program that allows high school students to earn Pennsylvania College of Technology credits.

“Penn College NOW provides Williamsport Area High School students with a chance to experience rigorous college curriculum, which helps provide a seamless transition between high school and college,” said Beverly A. Hunsberger, college transition specialist in the college’s Outreach for K-12 Office, which administers the program.

WAHS teachers Patti Miller and Andrew Paulhamus, both charged with instructing the new mathematics and plastics courses, respectively, sat down to discuss the new classes during the last days of the first semester.

“It’s gone really well for the first year,” Miller said.

Her class, comprised exclusively of seniors, covers intermediate algebra and trigonometry that’s “designed to prepare students for course work in technical majors,” according to the college’s course catalog.

The class studies topics such as algebraic expressions, linear equations, systems of equations, right triangle trigonometry, functions, graphs, geometry, ratio and proportion and variation.

Paulhamus’s Plastics Industry class, available to both juniors and seniors, provides an overview of the industry, including materials and processes, according to the college. Ranging in topics from career opportunities to “the nature of plastic product manufacturers,” the course invites “individual interest-based exploration.”

“(The classes) take on more of a college feel,” Paulhamus said of his course, though it’s a statement that could be applied to each college level class offered at WAHS.

Like college, tests and quizzes primarily serve as the basis for students’ grades, which are kept and recorded by the college, Miller said.

“Penn College provides all the tests,” she said. “They give them (the students) their grades.”

At the high school level, teachers simply direct the course with oversight from faculty at the college. In Paulhamus’s case, the college even provided all the necessary equipment needed to conduct his class.