If you sit down and have a conversation with ANSEP student Tommi Crist, you’ll be shocked to learn that she is only a rising junior in high school. You may be even more surprised to learn that while she’s a shining star today, Tommi was once behind and struggling in school. She will tell you that everything changed when she joined ANSEP in 2013.
Through participation in Middle School Academy, two STEM Career Exploration sessions, two Acceleration Academy sessions (both the summer of 2017) and a full year of Acceleration High School, Tommi already has 32 college credits toward her degree under her belt. Last summer Tommi shared her initial ANSEP experiences with us in the Student Success blog. Now we are catching up with her to see how things are going as a full-time student at ANSEP Acceleration High School.
ANSEP: Tell us about your first year at as a full-time student at ANSEP Acceleration High School.
Tommi: I had a lot of fun last year. It’s definitely a different kind of learning style. At Acceleration High School they take the problems out of the book and bring them to life in the classroom. Classes were definitely hard, but we all worked together to find solutions and understand the curriculum through weekly recitations and group study sessions. It really showed me that I can take advanced classes. It’s just about how you look at the problem in front of you.
ANSEP: Since you joined ANSEP you’ve earned 32 college credits – congratulations! How many do you hope to have before graduating high school?
Tommi: I will potentially graduate high school with 90 college credits, equivalent to my first three years of college, which is essentially one year from a bachelor’s degree.
ANSEP: What are you most excited about this school year?
Tommi: I am really excited for my math and science classes, specifically chemistry. Chemistry is like solving a puzzle, and it makes you think in a different way. I enjoy the way it makes my brain work to figure it out. ANSEP has really showed me how fun math and science can be.
ANSEP: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced at ANSEP Acceleration High School?
Tommi: The classes can be very challenging at times, and they definitely got tougher as the year went on. However, ANSEP really encourages teamwork. For example, in my math class, we work in groups instead of individually. A problem or theory one person doesn’t understand, another person might, so we help each other and learn together.
ANSEP: What is your favorite thing about being a student at ANSEP Acceleration High School?
Tommi: The sense of teamwork and community. Through weekly recitations and group work, it creates a safe environment that is open to questions. ANSEP helped me realize that it’s ok to not know everything right now. The reason you go to school is to learn!
ANSEP: Last year your dream was to become an aeronautical engineer. Is that still true?
Tommi: I know for sure that I want to work in a field that involves math or science. However, participating in Acceleration Academy this summer showed me there are more ways to do that than I realized. There are so many different areas of STEM, and I want to keep an open mind. We did a really cool lab this summer that now has me considering a career in biology.
ANSEP: At this rate, you could graduate high school early. Is that your plan?
Tommi: I am really enjoying my time at the Acceleration High School program. You only get to experience high school once, and I plan to make the most of my time here with my friends. Plus, this way I can earn even more college credits before starting at a university and save money!
In its inaugural year, ANSEP Acceleration High School had 27 students who earned more than 250 college credits, which represents a 92 percent success rate for Acceleration High School students in their college-level courses. Now in its second year, the ANSEP Acceleration High School component has more than doubled the number of students participating and now has 66 students enrolled.
Offered in partnership with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, the full-time high school at Mat-Su Career and Technical High School in Wasilla offers students an accelerated learning style using ANSEP’s proven educational model that aims to save students, their families and the State of Alaska millions of dollars.