On May 8, Firebaugh High School counselors Veronica Vasquez and Elizabeth Lopez traveled with two dual enrollment seniors to West Hills Community College Coalinga to participate in an event called “Dual Enrollment Data Summit.”

Five high school dual enrollment groups were at the event: Avenal, Tranquility, Coalinga, Mendota and Firebaugh. Held in the college’s dance room, the event kicked off with breakfast and a welcome speech given by President Carla Tweed at 9 a.m.

“When I was a young girl, all I knew was work,” Tweed said, “I never knew that college was an option for me. Had I known about community college earlier in my life, things would have been vastly different.”

After sharing her appreciation for everybody’s attendance and involvement in the program, Tweed stepped down from the podium, and the schedule carried on with a quick Free Application for Federal Student Aid update by Sarah Carmicheal, the director of financial aid for Coalinga College. The aid process has been officially updated from the submission process of prior academic years.

These changes have pushed back the due dates for FAFSA for the upcoming 2024-25 school year. Carmicheal then reminded attendees of the services that Coalinga College provides to all students to help ensure they fill out the forms for financial aid on time.

The presenter of another short presentation congratulated two high schools in particular. In the 2022-23 school year, Avenal High School received the California Exemplary Dual Enrollment Award. Then for the 2023-24 school year, the award was given to Firebaugh High School. This award is earned by schools that have not only grown in their dual enrollment programs but also had the completion of more college courses by more students.

Next on the agenda was an in-depth look at the data involving the dual enrollment programs at the sites of the five attending schools. They discussed topics such as the average total units of enrollment and overall GPA over the last four years. The numbers are promising, showing the success of these programs established in these five schools.

Some notable Firebaugh High School data concludes that the success rate has grown from 86.1 to 89.5 percent from the summer term in 2021 to the spring term of 2024. Additionally, two dual enrollment classes, taught by FHS teachers David Magoon and Lindsay Robinson, have turned out with a 100 percent success rate. Both courses “English-001A: Composition and Reading,” and “History-017B: History of the United States 1865-Present” are taught in person and have shown amazing results for the enrolled students.

Elizabeth Lopez, the head of the counseling department at FHS, shared that David Magoon enjoyed teaching his AP English course to seniors, and it took a long time to get him on board to teach as part of the dual enrollment program again after many years of setting it aside. “As [Magoon] got into it, he saw the potential in his students and the capability of them to actually be able to be successful in a dual enrollment course” Lopez said.

The data was discussed among school counselors and their students. After a group discussion, the nine attending students traveled across the college campus on a tour, while the administration and counselors continued their breakout sessions in the event room.

Students visited different areas of the campus such as the student center, library and the MESA (Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement) building. The nine students learned about the different opportunities available if they continued their education at Coalinga College.

Before concluding the event, the students were asked to sit in the front of the room, facing the attendees, and they were able to respond to some of the panel interview questions regarding the dual enrollment program. All the students shared a quick introduction and their greatest inspirations for enrolling in college courses.

Many of them mentioned their parents and family members as one of their biggest influences for taking these courses. “I take dual enrollment classes because my mom and dad didn’t get an education and they want better for me,” one student from Tranquility High School said. “I want to make sure their efforts don’t go to waste.”

The closing remarks were made by Lissette Padilla, head of the dual enrollment program at Coalinga College, thanking everyone for their support in growing the program and making it better for future students.

Dual enrollment has been rapidly growing at Firebaugh High School (as well as at the other high schools) and is resulting in great things for future students. This school year, the first cohort of 52 dual enrollment students at FHS will graduate from West Hills Community College.

Samantha Rangel