The atmosphere felt like a pep rally with participants ready for the big game! Only this game is college and career preparation for students who will become the first cohort of the new Flour Bluff High School (FBHS) Viking Academy.
“The Flour Bluff High School Viking Academy will be a first of its kind for Del Mar College and our school district,” said David Freeman, Ed.D., superintendent of Flour Bluff Independent School District. “We are thrilled to be leaders of this voyage and lay the path for other schools to emulate.”
During a press conference on February 20, Del Mar College (DMC) and Flour Bluff Independent School District (ISD) leadership announced the partnership creating the FBHS Viking Academy, which will begin this fall and provide participating students a path to earn 42 core credit hours toward an associate’s degree and their diploma simultaneously.
As part of the press conference, the institutional mascots––DMC’s Valdar and FBHS’ Buzzy and Buzzette––officially “sealed the deal” with the fuzzy-bearded College representative placing traditional Viking helmets on the two Hornets’ heads and handing them a hammer.
Before the mascots joined forces, DMC president and chief executive officer Mark Escamilla, Ph.D., noted, “Del Mar College has offered dual credit courses at Flour Bluff and other high schools throughout the Coastal Bend for many years, and we know the positive impact these opportunities can have on a student’s future. The Flour Bluff High School Viking Academy is a new, more elaborate approach with a real college experience built into it.”
The FBHS Viking Academy encompasses a required course schedule for ninth- through twelfth-grade participants, including high school preparatory and some DMC courses at the freshman level. The curriculum builds students’ attainment of the 42 core credits, which are transferable to Texas public institutions.
James Crenshaw, FBHS principal, added, “The rigorous coursework students will begin taking their freshman year will prepare them to be in college level courses during their junior and senior years, and a personalized graduation plan will be developed for each student to ensure their successful and on-time completion of high school.”
Ninth and tenth graders will receive instruction at Flour Bluff High School while junior- and senior-level students who meet both FBHS and DMC requirements will be transported to the East Campus to take core courses and experience a collegiate environment. Eventually, upper level academy students will take courses on the College’s new southside campus when construction is completed.
FBHS counselors are identifying academy candidates and working with DMC staff this spring to advise students about course enrollment, ensuring they are on the right path to earn credits applicable to their associate’s degree and beyond. Core courses range in subjects under communications, English, kinesiology, mathematics, natural sciences, social/behavioral sciences and social studies. The first cohort will include ninth graders with the academy accommodating up to 200 freshman this next academic year. Also, a hybrid version of the FBHS Viking Academy will start this fall and include a cohort of current DMC dual credit students.
Academy requirements students must meet include:
- taking advanced coursework as freshmen and sophomores,
- taking and passing the Texas Success Initiative exam beginning their freshman year,
- maintaining an 85 average in their core high school classes,
- taking and passing all end-of-course exams,
- maintaining a 95% attendance rate, and
- adhering to the requirements set forth in the FBHS Viking Academy handbook.
For parents, their investment to have their youth get a head start on higher education is less than having their son or daughter wait to start college after high school. Tuition is $99.99 per three hour course or approximately $33 per credit hour, the same as for area Del Mar dual credit students and which hasn’t changed in more than five years.
“That adds up to about $800 for one year of tuition,” Escamilla said. “In contrast, one year of tuition at a four-year university can cost $9,000 to $10,000.”
Flour Bluff ISD is covering the costs to transport upper-level students to the College’s East Campus. Additionally, students who meet academy requirements but have an economic need can access scholarships through the school district.
“This program is a win-win for the students, Flour Bluff High School and Del Mar College by developing students who will be ready to continue their college experience or continue the path to a meaningful career,” noted Crenshaw.
Escamilla added, “In the near future, we hope to replicate the Viking Academy model at other area high schools.”
For now, a new era will begin for FBHS Viking Academy students as they call themselves both Vikings and Hornets in fall 2020.
To find out more about the Flour Bluff High School Viking Academy, click here.