Steamboat Springs High School sophomores Christine Krentz, center, and Kestral Johnston, right, watch a student demonstrate the formation of a cell’s phospholipid bilayer in a beaker Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus. Krentz and Johnston are two of the youngest students taking college courses at CMC through the concurrent enrollment program.

Photo by Scott Franz

Steamboat Springs High School sophomores Christine Krentz, center, and Kestral Johnston, right, watch a student demonstrate the formation of a cell’s phospholipid bilayer in a beaker Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus. Krentz and Johnston are two of the youngest students taking college courses at CMC through the concurrent enrollment program.

Routt County students broaden horizons with CMC's dual enrollment program


— Surrounded by gas spigots and beakers in a Colorado Mountain College science lab on Tuesday, Christine Krentz fired up an iPad to take notes.

She later admitted that she arrived to her biology class in Bristol Hall Room 217 last month holding onto a secret.

“At first, I was nervous about how everyone would react to it,” she said.

But a couple days into the class, she revealed to her college classmates that she was only a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, and at 15 years old, she can’t even drive to school.

“I thought it would be awkward,” Krentz said. “But it’s been great. Everyone here has been so respectful and nice.”

After they correctly answered a set of questions about the properties of a cell’s phospholipid bilayer posed by teacher Rebecca Sears, it was hard to tell that Krentz and her friend Kestral Johnston, also a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, were the youngest students in Routt County taking notes in a college classroom.

Krentz and Johnston are two of 40 students from high schools in Routt County who this year are utilizing CMC’s concurrent enrollment program that allows high school students to earn college credit in courses at the Alpine Campus.

“In high school, you’re not always challenged,” Krentz said Tuesday. “Up here, you’re more at your own pace, and you get a more specialized education.”

Krentz is following in the footsteps of her brother Brandon, who plans to earn his associate degree from CMC before he is handed his high school diploma.

“It all started with him,” Christine Krentz said. “I’m thinking about going into the medical field, and these college courses will help me decide what I want to do before I leave high school.”

CMC counselor Amy Phillips said Tuesday that the number of high school students enrolling in classes at the Alpine Campus has increased steadily since the dual enrollment program was initiated four years ago. She said that although enrollment has started to stabilize at about 40 students, she is seeing more students this year taking advanced and specialized courses such as Calculus II and Calculus-Based Physics II as they strive to enter specialized fields such as biomedicine and engineering.

“We still have several students taking courses here to meet core requirements, but I’ve started to see more of them taking upper-division classes and working toward getting their associate degree at the same time they graduate high school,” she said.

She said this semester’s group of concurrently enrolled students is taking 240 credits in more than 22 courses that range from English composition to economics and art history to college algebra.

CMC Alpine Campus Chief Executive Officer Peter Perhac said Tuesday that the courses give students like Krentz and Johnston an early taste of the college experience and that to have a high school sophomore in the program is an exceptional occurrence.

“It’s economical for parents, and we want to give them the college experience much earlier,” Perhac said.

Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman said the program continues to have many benefits for the 34 students he has taking classes through CMC.

“I think it meets a lot of different needs,” he said. “Sometimes they solve scheduling conflicts, and we have students who are working to get their associate degrees at the same time they get their high school diplomas.”


Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

So does SSHS not offer a good high school biology class? Or are these two so advanced that they are done with high school science classes?

Personally, on a slightly cynical note, I am not sure I'd want Sophomores taking college classes. I'd be worried that they'd realize that college is easier than they expected and they'd realize they can skate by in high school and still do well in college.


Scott Glynn 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott, The SSHS Biology curriculum is a well thought out and planned high school class. But it's still a high school class. I have a sophomore son and have had the distinct pleasure of being familiar with these girls and they are both exceptionally bright students with a ton of drive. The ability to offer this type of learning setting for students who have the intellect and maturity to handle these situations is an awesome opportunity for them and their families. While your cynicism is probably appropriate in many cases, I think that if there is a student who pursues these types of opportunities is the type of student that sees the broader spectrum and looks at this as an opportunity to set up their future. Personally I think that that is a welcome trait for our young men and women to have. Infrequently we have the student who wants to be academically challenged. Too often we have students who can boast of a higher grade point average by taking easier classes than students who push their envelope. And while they might not "struggle" with a class they do not post as high a grade point compared to their peers who do not. The courage to accept that challenge is another trait that would be welcome in my household at anytime


1999 5 years, 8 months ago

I think it's great!

When I was in HS..I had finished all of my required courses and had taken all AP classes available and had only two classes to take my senior year.

I was able to enroll at a local college and did my entire freshman college year my senior HS year (and summer) Doing this saved me a ton of money. Made the transition to college easy. I was still living at home under my parents watchful eye.

when I did move away to college I knew the expectations and workload.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh, so the rest of the college class was unlucky enough to have two high schoolers to let the professor know that it is possible for the students to learn the material well. :)

That is the nightmare scenario for college students. Getting talented motivated high school kids in the class. So now the bar just got raised by high school students.

My "cynical" comment was that college can seem like it will be so much harder than high school (remember the start of Paper Chase where he gets shrouded for failing to read material prior to first day of class) and now these two could learn that they can cruise and still do well in college courses.

Yes, it is great.


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 8 months ago

It is great! Similar to 1999, I was able to take a big chunk out of freshman year with Chem, Calc and English Comp courses at a local college during high school senior year.

That gave me some breathing room since I had to work while in college. It allowed me to take many music courses and finish Pre-med, while pursuing my engineering degree.

Granted, the world is a safer place as I decided against Med School.


Phoebe Hackman 5 years, 8 months ago

Well, I went to high school back in the stone age; it probably would have taken an act of congress for me to take a college course as a high school senior. So, since I only had to take one class my senior year, I spent the rest of day basking in the sun on various beaches in Hawaii. Eat your hearts out, overachievers!!!! :-D


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 8 months ago

LOL Phoebe. I just hope you used lots of sunscreen given your complexion.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Well, my college only accepted the calculus series from the local community college as placement and generic units, but not as counting towards a math degree. So all said and done I finished with over 90 quarter units in math classes.

And we were advised that some colleges were not accepting AP scores even as placement so many took chemistry 1C at the community college to avoid being asked to retake the year long freshman chemistry series.

There was also a side issue of colleges having different slots and rules if they considered the applicant a high school graduate or a college transfer student. Basically, some kids never told their college of the college classes they took in high school. Otherwise, they would have been treated as transfer students and would not have been eligible to be admitted into their intended field of study.


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