ESCANABA - Enrollment is now open at Bay Middle College, the high school program run through the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District that operates on Bay College's Escanaba campus.
The program draws students from other districts in the ISD who may need a change of setting for a variety of reasons.
"We'll have students who come in and simply want to complete high school and graduate. We have others who come in because they are interested in the college track, at a younger age. It just depends. We have all kinds of different reasons for students to be here," said Bay Middle College Principal Dan Seder.
While Bay Middle College can trace its roots to 1977 when the Delta County Education Center was established following an alternative high school model, the school has transformed over the years into a middle college. This middle college model allows students to pursue college credits while completing high school and benefiting from small class sizes and increased individual attention.
"I used to get all really bad grades, and when I came here it just changed my way of thinking about things. I wanted to get it done pretty much," said Kaitlyne Micheau, a student at the middle college. "I've gotten the best grades (here) that I have gotten ... anywhere."
All students who complete the program receive a high school diploma recognizing they have completed the requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum. However, for those students who choose to pursue higher education while attending high school, taking classes through Bay College is free to students in the program.
To date, 48 students have received 290 credits while enrolled at the middle college. Five students have graduated with 15 or more credits and eight students are currently taking college level courses this semester.
"The college kids here are quite nice, too. I mean, I don't think we've ever really had an issue," said student Emily Olla.
At the end of last year the middle college piloted a program with Bay College where middle college students could receive tutoring from the college's trained student tutors. The program was a success and students now have the ability to access these tutors who, according to Seder, can sometimes connect with students differently due to the smaller age gap.
"It's a great experience for our kids because the person is properly trained, there's sometimes better connections with that closer proximity in age, but it's also a college environment, and our students love it," said Seder.
One concern for students considering switching from their home schools to the middle college is the lack of special education, but according to students the services aren't as necessary as they are in more traditional high school settings.
"There's no special ed here but since the classes are smaller the teacher does more. If you need help she'll come to you and help you out. That's not a problem at all," said Micheau.
Like most high schools, Bay Middle College is open for a whole day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Unlike most high schools, grading is done on a quarterly basis instead of on a semester basis.
"I love the fact that the grade system's much different," said Olla. "If you fail a quarter ... you have a better shot at catching up because your grades restart the next quarter."
The grading structure also allows the school to enroll new students more frequently throughout the year.
"We enroll students four times a year. We're enrolling students right now for our third marking period and we will be enrolling students through Feb. 11," said Seder.
Students who wish to enroll at the middle college need the approval of their home district. If a student wants to participate in extracurriculars such as sports they can continue to do so at their home district as long as they meet that district's participation requirements.
While the school aims to be a better fit for students who need a different educational environment, if the fit isn't right students can be sent back to their home districts.
"We do have a strict discipline policy, attendance policy, and minimum academic requirements and if students are not meeting those pieces they are referred back to their home school," said Seder.
For more information about Bay Middle College or to enroll a student visit www.baycollege.edu/baymiddlecollege.