NewsLocal News


Billings students ready for early college school, district may extend application deadline

Screenshot 2024-03-12 at 12.40.42 AM.png
Posted at 1:05 AM, Mar 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 19:05:20-04

The registration deadline may be extended for the Billings Early College School.

The early college is one of three public charter schools coming to Billings next year, providing students the opportunity to earn both their high school diploma and college credits.

The plan starting this Fall is for freshmen in the program to spend half the day at the college school, which will be part of the charter schools at Washington.

Now, it's still early in their educational lives, but some eighth graders already have an idea of what they may want to pursue as a career.

"Electronics and engineering which are two of my favorite things to do," said Mason Hoffman, an 8th grader at Elder Grove School.

Hoffman would like to study electrical engineering.

"If I do want to be a pilot, kickstarting a degree would definitely be the best option," said Aidrian Lindley, an 8th Grader at Ben Steele Middle School.

Lindley wants to study aviation at Rocky Mountain College.

With that focus in mind, Hoffman and Lindley have applied for early college school.

They will start the day at the college school at Washington, and for both of these students, finish at West High School.

Through this program, they can earn a two-year associate's degree and complete their first two years of college.

"It'll be a nice jumpstart so I do not have to spend as much time in college and I can get a jumpstart paying off student loans," said Hoffman.

"Just going into high school next year, just knowing that I can spend some of my time on the college campus seems just pretty fun," said Lindley.

Their parents told them about the opportunity and both of these boys decided they were up for the challenge.

"Around the dinner table, we will talk about finances, talk about college, talk about whatever," said Mychal Hoffman, Mason's dad, who is an electrical engineer. "And when he had heard us talking about it. He's like, that sounds like a pretty good idea."

"Having the opportunity to connect with universities, his junior and senior year of high school, and be on university campuses and kickstart that career is amazing and awesome," said Clementine Lindley, Aidrian's mom. "And it's just a really great opportunity to have that real-world experience."

School District 2 has set a maximum of 125 students for next year and has now extended the deadline in hopes of reaching that capacity.

"The idea of partnering with our local colleges here MSUB is a committed partner," said Dr. Jeril Hehn, the district's director of advanced academics. "We're still exploring with Rocky Mountain College."

And at the end of high school, they may get the unique opportunity to celebrate not one but two commencement ceremonies.

"Once you get that degree, nobody can take that away from you," Hehn said. "You get to put that on your resume for the rest of your life."

Hehn encourages parents with talk with their eighth-grade children about the college school.

She says to look at the district's website and talk with her.

School District 2 has set a maximum of 125 students for next year and may extend the deadline in hopes of reaching that capacity.

"It's likely we will extend the deadline," Hehn said. "We'll take a look at it this week as we do our staffing and we'll make some final decisions. But we're not at the point where we need to do a lottery and weed kids and say no. The answer is still yes."