College-level courses on rise for Mitchell high-schoolers

Mitchell High School Principal Joe Childs estimated one in four junior and senior students are taking courses that are eligible to be transferred to colleges.

Mitchell High School Principal Joe Childs estimated one in four junior and senior students are taking courses that are eligible to be transferred to colleges.

That’s a growing number, Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves said at Monday night’s regular Mitchell Board of Education meeting. Graves pointed out the Rising Scholars courses, including the Dual Credit with Northern State University in art, computers, biology, AP history and college algebra. The meeting was at the Mitchell Technical Institute Trades Center lecture hall.

“It’s healthy because it means students have a forward-looking orientation,” Graves said after giving his final review on the district report card. He finished going over the report at this week’s meeting after starting the 36-page booklet at the last meeting.

Graves added: “If a student is diligent and wants to do that kind of thing, they can pursue that and have some college credits built up before they leave us.”

The dual-credit courses allow high school students the opportunity to get a jump start on college credits by taking higher-level classes. The credits can be transferred to colleges that recognize and accept them. Some colleges accept the credits, but not all do.


“It’s very sporadic,” Graves said. “Schools that you think they’ll accept it, they don’t; schools that you think won’t, they do. It’s important that we try to get our counselors to make sure the parents and students understand they check with where you think you’re going first.”

The district also offers dual enrollment classes with Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Technical Institute, Graves noted. Other academic offerings that have dual credit offerings are the Advanced Placement English, math, history and Spanish programs.

There were other highlights Graves went over in the report card, including a higher amount of long-tenured teachers; the strong support the district receives from volunteer organizations and community members; and high daily participation in the food service program.

Last year, there were 25 teachers in the district with 31 to 40 years of total teaching experience, which is the second-highest amount in the past seven school years. The 11 teachers with 36 to 40 years of experience is a high for the same time period.

Graves said 63 percent of the faculty in the district has a master’s degree or higher, which is also a growing trend.

“One of our faculty now has her doctorate, and that is Teri Morgan with the Spanish program,” Graves said.

The report card shows people, organizations and businesses that have donated and volunteered. The list spans four pages.

“It’s kind of amazing,” Graves said. “Where we get most of our support is at the high school, which is where we have a lot of different programs. But nonetheless, at the elementary schools there’s amazing stuff happening.”


Graves noted the Mitchell Community Scholarship Fund, which awarded 175 scholarships last year for between $500 and $550, and showed the endowment fund is $319,092.

He also showed the food service program served about 350,000 meals last year, including breakfasts and lunches.

“It’s a very big business,” he said. “I think people tend to see it as a rather minor matter and just a couple ladies in hairnets with the old stereotype.”

Mitchell Middle School has the highest percentage of its students participate in the food service program at 85 percent. Longfellow, Gertie Belle Rogers, L.B. Williams elementary schools and Mitchell Senior High all serve at least 79 percent of their students.

Other business

In other business, board members:

• Approved a consent agenda that included minutes from a past meeting, claims, personnel items and open enrollment.

• Approved, on first reading, placing existing employee procedures for dealing with exposure to potentially infectious materials into policy, and updating addresses in existing policies.


• Approved designating as surplus for sale a 1998 Dodge Neon Sport, an “old orange truck,” a 1972 trailer, seven overhead projectors from the high school, a refrigerated salad bar, a Lincoln cash drawer cart, a Wisco food warmer, two “very old” Bunn coffee machines, a Cambro line service cart and two silverware and tray carts.

• Heard reports from board members Deb Olson, Neil Putnam and Theresa Kriese on meetings attended since the last regular board meeting.

• Took a tour of the MTI Trades Center.

Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at
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