Monarch Students Stray from Traditional Education

Sabrina Tran practices her styling on a mannequin in her Hairstyling 1 class at Boulder TEC.

Provided by Sabrina Tran

Sabrina Tran practices her styling on a mannequin in her Hairstyling 1 class at Boulder TEC.

Arika Rooney, Business Manager

Boulder TEC offers career training while earning diploma

At 11:45pm on a weekday most Monarch students are eating in the cafeteria, sitting in their classrooms or rushing to get lunch before fifth period. At the same time, Monarch has a handful of students, among the average, who are loading on a yellow school bus to Arapahoe Campus. After a fifteen minute drive to Arapahoe, these students take a variety of alternative curriculum classes and encounter diverse experiences compared to those they would have at Monarch.

Monarch in most aspects is a traditional high school. Students from grades 9-12 attend Monarch from early morning to late afternoon preparing for higher education. Boulder Technical Education Center, commonly known as Boulder TEC, takes a different approach to prepare their students for life after high school. Boulder TEC enrolls students in grades 10-12 and gives them the opportunity to earn diplomas along with technical training for jobs in industries such as nursing, cosmetology and criminal justice right after graduation. Students enrolled in Boulder TEC receive free community college credit and technical certification in specific areas.

Boulder TEC shares a campus with Arapahoe Ridge High School, and together they have a total enrollment of 165 and share a student-to-teacher ratio of 8.4 to 1. By contrast, Monarch’s enrollment is over fifteen hundred and the student-to-teacher ratio is 20.7 to 1. Boulder TEC offers classes for around $35 per year in courses that after high school would cost up to $18,000.

A handful of Monarch students attend Boulder TEC part time to earn technical certificates. They attend Monarch in the morning and take a provided bus or their own cars to the afternoon classes beginning at noon. Junior Sabrina Tran plans on going to CSU after high school but realizes that “there are so many students out there with college degrees that have difficulty finding a job.”  She looks at her training in her Hairstyling 1 class at Boulder-TEC as  “always something to fall back on. It’s great income during college, if [I] ever want to travel, or during a gap between graduating college and finding a job.”

Senior Nick Brown plans on going to culinary school after receiving his certificate following his completed year in the culinary program at Boulder TEC. “It will help me a lot there, I will already know a lot of stuff.” Brown explained how the in depth focus on the culinary arts will help him more in culinary school than the catering program at Monarch.

The culture at Boulder TEC also differs from Monarch’s. Brown explains that Boulder TEC’s “experience is very different than the one Monarch can offer. Here at Monarch we have our little bubble, my first day [ at Arapahoe campus] everyone gave me this look like ‘you don’t belong here.’”

According to the 2012 BVSD School Climate survey,  84% of students attending Monarch feel welcomed at school while only 57% feel welcomed at Arapahoe Campus. Tran admits that it might be partially due to the fact that at Arapahoe Campus “There’s a lot more diversity. Monarch is a lot less diverse– it’s really white.” Monarch is 81% caucasian while Arapahoe campus is 38% caucasian and 54% hispanic. Tran does appreciate the fact that Arapahoe campus tries to accommodate all types of teenagers. “They have a class for teen moms and a daycare for their kids. When I leave school at Arapahoe I see anywhere from ten to fifteen moms picking up their children and going on the bus.”

The attitude of students at Boulder TEC is also different from the way people act toward Monarch students. “The profiling [from admin] is different; at Monarch you get a lot of freedom, whereas at Arapahoe you have to be escorted out of the classroom to even use the bathroom,” explained Tran.

One of the downsides of attending Boulder TEC is the lack of time spent at Monarch. “I don’t get full lunches, I miss a lot of the social aspects because I miss four classes at Monarch. At Boulder TEC I don’t see my classmates as friends but more as coworkers,” Tran stated. Brown feels like almost less of a Monarch student because he only attends two elective courses at Monarch.

Both Tran and Brown agree that their decision to attend classes at Boulder TEC was the right one. If you are interested in attending Boulder Technical Education Center talk to a counselor to help decide if it’s right for you.