With a quick signature Thursday, the Dual Enrollment-HOPE program partnership between the Forsyth County school system and Lanier Technical College was continued for another year.
The program allows students to earn college credit at Lanier Tech while still getting the high school courses needed to graduate. In so doing, said Forsyth County Board of Education member Ann Crow, students can get “ahead of the game.”
Officials signed the memorandum of understanding for another year of the program during the school board’s meeting Thursday. School Superintendent Buster Evans said the relationship with the college, which has a campus in Forsyth, is “at an all-time high.”
“I think that our administration within the system, our counselors within the system continue to work with a real commitment to giving these opportunities to students,” he said. “We’re excited to know that you have already demonstrated your commitment to the support of dual enrollment.”
The college’s support came through a decision to waive any tuition not covered by the HOPE scholarship, which is about 70 percent.
Currently, about 300 students participate in the dual enrollment program from 10 different school systems, including Forsyth. Lanier Tech President Ray Perren said Forsyth students account for about 10 to 15 percent of the college’s dual enrollment students.
“I’m grateful to the Forsyth County Board of Education, Dr. Evans and the administration for allowing us to be partners with them in providing these opportunities for students,” Perren said. “Today’s generation of young people are the brightest young people that this country has ever produced, regardless of what test scores say.”
Different career-focused programs are offered at Forsyth’s high schools. For example, students at North Forsyth have access to a JROTC program. But if they want cosmetology, they can go to Lanier Tech’s Dawson County campus.
The local high schools also participate in dual enrollment programs with other colleges, including the University of North Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia Perimeter College.
However, the partnership with Lanier Tech is career-based, not academic like the others.
The program at Lanier Tech gives students hands-on training in various fields, including criminal justice, medical assistant, welding and interior design, among others.
Jeff Fitzpatrick, Lanier Tech’s high school coordinator, said he’s “very proud” of the program.
“Our numbers, systemwide for us, continue to grow, and Forsyth County continues to pay a large part of this,” he told the board. “We appreciate the support you give them.
“And counselors, we really appreciate the amount of effort they put into it. They have the interest of the students at heart and we want to see each and every one of those students succeed and we want to be a part of your team to do this.”