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Education

First WRVS student to attend VAST program

Journal Opinion of Bradford, Vermont

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WAITS RIVER — A Chelsea High School junior from the Waits River Valley School District will be the first district student to participate in the Vermont Academy of Science and Technology's early college program at Vermont Technical College.

The WRVS board unanimously approved a stipend not to exceed $3,000 for the year to assist Erica Blodgett next year when she attends the VAST program at VTC for what would have been her senior year in high school. The program allows high school seniors to receive a high school diploma while completing their first year of college tuition-free.

Blodgett's parents, Bonnie and Joe Blodgett, attended the Aug. 6 board meeting to request assistance to help cover the books, lab and activity fees and like expenses. They estimated total costs for the year to be approximately $1,452 per semester. Their daughter will be commuting from home to the VTC campus in Randolph where the tuition of $6,228 will be covered by the state of Vermont.

According to the discussion between board members and the parents, other school districts have "coughed up" the peripheral costs for VAST students that would normally be educated within their own districts. Bonnie Blodgett asked the board for their support since labs, books and other similar expenses would typically be covered for a high school student's tuition expenses. If she were to continue to attend high school in

Chelsea, the tuition of $14,800 would have been paid by the district since it offers families a choice of where to attend high school.

"This is a great opportunity," Bonnie Blodgett sad. "You're going right into your freshman year." In order to be accepted to the program, students must have completed most of the upper-level courses at their high school and have a passion for science and math.

"You have to have the academics and community service," added Blodgett. "[Erica] had three interviews before she was accepted. It's a great honor [but it is] a bit more of an added expense for us as a family."

Board chair Chris Preston and board member Steve Simpson agreed that the expense could be justified in lieu of payment of tuition to Chelsea High School.

Blodgett said that four students from Chelsea would be attending VAST and following completion of the program they would be participating in two graduations. They will e able to graduate with their class at Chelsea and also will take part in graduation from VAST.

According to the VAST website, should students in the program elect to continue to pursue college at VTC, they will be eligible to have their last semester provided free.

Preston suggested a motion to cover up to $ 1,500 per semester to cover ancillary costs that do not include housing or transportation and Simpson amended the motion to allow up to $3,000 for costs for the year. All approved the expense. Email: news@Jonews.com.



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Original Publication Date: August 12, 2015



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