May 15, 2019
The Pleasant St. Academy Early College High School program, a collaboration between the University of Maine at Fort Kent and MSAD #27, is undergoing some significant changes. Starting in the 2019-2020 academic year the program will be renamed Valley U. In addition, course requirements for the program have been restructured.
When it was launched in 2011, Pleasant St. Academy, part of UMFK’s Rural U Program, was Maine’s first example of an early college high school program. Since its inception, students in the program graduated from high school with up to one full year of college completed via courses taught at UMFK or in Fort Kent Community High School by teachers approved by UMFK to teach college credit-bearing classes. Since then, seven cohorts of high school students have completed the program representing over 150 students who have graduated from FKCHS with one year of college completed.
The first cohort of high school juniors in Valley U will start in the fall of 2019. These students will also be the first to experience the changes in course requirements.
Scott Voisine, Dean of Community Education at UMFK explains, “Pleasant St. Academy students had a specific set of up to 30 college credits prescribed to them. Valley U will have 17 credits of core courses required of all Valley U students, but the remaining credits (up to 30) will be elective credits; thus providing for greater flexibility and opportunities for exploration of individualized interests.” The core requirements and the electives include college classes taught in the high school via dual enrollment, live classes at UMFK, or online classes. The online classes also include Rural U Workforce classes which allow high school students to earn an early college certificate in six different career-focused areas offered at UMFK.
Valley U is also setting the stage for the future consolidation of three St. John Valley high schools into the new Valley Unified High School. “There will be more opportunities for students in the new consolidated school to achieve college credit through a variety of ways,” states Voisine, “We want to make sure we have a program that is flexible enough for students to choose pathways that work best for them.”
John Kaleta, FKCHS Principal, was one of the original group of FKCHS teachers and administrators who along with UMFK staff and faculty, developed the original Pleasant St. Academy Program. He states, “FKCHS and UMFK have led the state in Early College High School for the past eight years with Pleasant Street Academy. Valley U will continue to deliver high quality dual enrollment and early college courses to our cohorts at FKCHS and will allow more of our learners in the future Valley Unified High School to participate in this program as they build towards a successful future.”
For more information about Valley U or Rural U programs, please call Scott Voisine at 834-8644.