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BOLT to Chemeketa provides free class for high school seniors

A Student accesses information on Chemeketa’s website about BOLT to Chemeketa. Photo by Cecelia Love-Zhou

Chemeketa Community College created BOLT to Chemeketa, a program which allowed high school seniors to choose one, free, five-week online course which started May 4th.

Inspired by other colleges in the state, Chemeketa President. Jessica Howard initiated BOLT to help high school seniors within Chemeketa’s service area. 

Sara Hastings, Dean of High School Partnerships, said, “I think this [program] is really a good example of us all coming together as a college community to help support our students.”

Chemeketa chose to start BOLT at the same time as their other five-week classes. “[This] allowed us time to get students enrolled and registered. And then they could start their classes on time,” said Hastings.

Prior to the start of the program, instructors had positive expectations.

Chemeketa recruited Matthew Keeling, an instructor from High School Partnerships, to teach MTH 111 for BOLT.

“Once [the students] get adjusted to the distance learning format and the different requirements of them,” said Keeling, “I think they have the potential to really thrive because they’re only allowed to take one class, and so they really get to focus everything they have on this one class which is something that most students don’t ever get to do.”

“Most students, especially full-time students, take three, maybe four, classes if not more. And to be able to just focus on a singular class with all of your effort would be really exciting I think,” Keeling said. 

Chemeketa also approached the English Department to create a course for the program. 

“My understanding is that we managed to come up with some good viable options. I hope that the classes end up being as useful as they can possibly be,” said LeAnna Crawford, program chair of the English Program and coordinator of the Online Writing Center.

Crawford chose to develop an introductory English Literature course for BOLT instead of a Composition one. Composition courses require more time for students to retain the information than introductory ones. 

“I’m glad that we did not offer courses that would set students up for failure like a Composition course in five weeks,” Crawford said.

These instructors anticipated challenges BOLT students will face. Students not only have to adjust to online formatting but also college-level courses. 

“So with [students] used to being in a classroom, and being face-to-face with not just their instructor but also their peers and being able to engage with their peers in conversation about the material and then going into a college-level math course that is online and completely separated from both their instructor and their peers [will be] a challenge,” Keeling said.

BOLT students must have self-motivation in order to succeed.

“It’s largely up to [the] individual student whether or not the individual student is able to succeed. There are some added barriers of course right now. Not just is everything remote, but it also means that students have to self-motivate which is the primary concern with all online courses,” Crawford said.

Keeling and Crawford set up their classes to ensure BOLT students succeed. Keeling wanted to incorporate discussions and group activities to create a community environment rather than a one-on-one feel. He also structured his lessons so that students needed to complete their current assignments before progressing. 

Crawford chose to develop an introductory English Literature course for BOLT instead of a Composition one. Composition courses require more time for students to retain the information than introductory ones. Crawford said, “I’m glad that we did not offer courses that would set students up for failure like a Composition course in five weeks.” 

All of the Bolt class spots were filled. Chemeketa expressed hope that this program continues if it succeeds.

“[BOLT is] something that Dr. Howard and the college would like to offer in the future and if we have the funding to do so,” said Hastings.

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