Excited about new Baker school

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board July 20, 2011 08:43 pm

The Baker School District’s new EAGLE CAP education program has us intrigued, and excited about its potential.

The program’s name is an acronym for Education Alternatives Guiding Lifetime Engagements through Career and Planning.

The concept — that for some high school students college is not the ideal goal — is hardly revolutionary.

But the program that EAGLE CAP principal Barry Nemec described in an interview with Herald reporter Chris Collins sounds to us like a more promising one than the “alternative” schools the district has operated in the past.

One of the more appealing aspects of the program is its flexibility.

Although EAGLE CAP students will have much vocational training available — learning welding and metal fabrication through a partnership with the Sumpter Valley Railroad, for instance — the program also includes a college prep track.

We also like that students must apply for admission to EAGLE CAP — there’s a limit of 50 students — and sit for an interview with program advisors.

That’s valuable practice for the situations students will face pretty much anytime they apply for a job.

For students who choose a vocational course, the EAGLE CAP’s variable schedule allows them to finish their high school course work while gaining marketable skills, and potentially enough college credits to earn an associate’s degree before graduation.

Nemec said the program is not designed for the unmotivated.

“It’s rigorous and some kids are not mature enough or do not have enough skills to participate in a program like this,” he said.

Finally, by emphasizing a partnership among students, parents and advisers in planning for the students’ future and setting goals, EAGLE CAP seems to us more likely to engage students than to discourage them, as the more regimented nature of a standard school curriculum sometimes does.

Ultimately, of course, the success of EAGLE CAP depends largely on the students themselves.

Because not all students prosper in a traditional high school, we’re optimistic that the variety of options for those enrolled in EAGLE CAP will make the program a useful, and potentially life-changing, opportunity for students whose ambitions are just as important as those of their classmates who go to a different building.