Frederick High’s first P-TECH students meet industry mentors
By Amy Bounds, Staff Writer, Times-Call
Frederick High School recently gave the 31 students in the school’s first Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools, or P-TECH, class the opportunity to spend a morning getting to know their mentors.
The 35 mentors are from the school’s industry partners — Agilent Technologies in Boulder and Frederick, Tolmar in Windsor and AveXis in Longmont — and agreed to help the students through the P-TECH program.
The workforce readiness program combines high school with two years of community college. Frederick, where the focus is on focus is on biomedical sciences, is the district’s second P-TECH location.
St. Vrain was chosen by the state in 2015 to be one of first two school districts to offer P-TECH. The district’s first P-TECH program, at Longmont’s Skyline High School, is a partnership with Front Range Community College and IBM.
At Frederick, students who successfully complete the program — they have up to six years — graduate with an associate degree in science from Aims Community College.
“This will give me college credits and the classes that I need to get ahead,” Frederick freshman Mystique Lor said. “It’s stressful right now, but in the end the associate’s degree will be worth it.”
Along with getting to know their mentors, Frederick’s P-TECH students are taking an Advanced Placement class, two honors classes and a guided study class this semester.
They’ll take their first concurrent enrollment college class, computer science, in the spring. Sophomore year, they take six college classes, then eight both their junior and senior years.
“We want to ramp them up academically so they’re prepared for their college courses,” said Frederick Assistant Principal Russ Fox. “We want to give these kids a huge opportunity to advance their lives.”
At the mentor event, activities included games, the students leading school tours and the students and mentors interviewing each other.
Marshall Schlick, a manufacturing quality engineer at Agilent, recommended trying new things and thinking about potential career options early.
“Put yourself out there,” he said. “Try new things and don’t be scared of what could happen. Always have a good attitude. If something goes wrong, there’s always a way to bounce back. If you keep a good attitude, you’re a step ahead.”
Stephanie Barto, another Agilent employee, said she signed up as a mentor because she wished she had one when she was in high school to help her figure out how to study and what classes to take.
“I can be a person to help,” she said.
She told the student she’s mentoring, Casey Knapp, that she stayed focused on keeping her grades up in high school, helped by her “Type A” personality. She also said her job with Agilent requires her “to think a lot.”
“I love what I do,” she said. “That’s what matters.”
Sally Dyer is vice president at AveXis, a company that develops gene therapies, and is paired with freshman Samantha Fenz, who is considering gene therapy as a career.
“I like helping people,” Frenz said, adding she appreciates the opportunity to start developing relationships with people who work in the industry while still in high school.
From the mentor side, Dyer said, it’s an opportunity for her company to partner with students and help develop a future workforce.
“We can help them see what the outcome of their education can be,” she said. “As mentors, we’re really here to help. It’s a safe place to ask any question.”