Nearly 200 high school students from Burbank and nearby areas are finishing up classes next week through Woodbury University’s Initial Credit summer program.
Students from Burroughs and Burbank High, Bellarmine-Jefferson, Immaculate Heart, Village Christian and other area schools are waking up early in the morning to get to class on time, completing a year’s worth of work in six, four-day weeks of study at Woodbury.
The program was developed in 2009 and has grown in number of students each year. Woodbury University’s then Vice President Dr. David Rosen worked with Woodbury’s Mauro Diaz and BUSD’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator Peggy Flynn to develop multiple programs with Burbank Unified, including the Woodbury Initial Credit Summer Program.
“The state budget crisis impacted districts throughout California, including the elimination of many summer programs,” explained Flynn. “Burbank Unified was still able to offer summer school to students who failed a course and had to recover credit but students who had a D or wanted to earn initial credit had extremely few and very expensive options locally.”
“BUSD administration approached Woodbury in 2009 to see if they might be interested in creating a program that offered options to students who wanted to bring up a low grade to improve their GPA and/or take a course for the first time,” added Flynn.
“Completing an initial credit course in the summer allows students to make room in their regular school year for electives, athletics, and the arts,” she also said. “It also allows students to complete course prerequisites with greater ease – for example, by taking Pre-Calculus in the summer, the student can enroll in Calculus or AP Calculus during the next school year.”
“A wonderful bonus is that our high school students are able to experience taking courses on a real college campus – an experience we hope will inspire them to dream big and work hard,” Flynn concluded.
“We wanted to engage with not only BUSD but with the community as well,” said Diaz, Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management at Woodbury. “We provide not only a camp environment but a learning experience through programs like Initial Credit, Burbank Youth Summer Theatre institute, and architecture and fashion camps. Our programs are affordable and engage elementary, middle and high school students in the community.”
Eight summer classes for initial credit are being taught by BUSD teachers on the Woodbury campus this summer: Spanish 2 and 3, Health, U.S. and World History, Algebra 2, Geometry and PreCalculus. Woodbury also offers a Fashion Camp (for grades 4-8), Art of Architecture (for grades 5-9) and other programs aimed at high school students during the summer.
“I wanted to take Pre-Calc in the summer so I can take AP Calculus in my junior year and BC Calculus in my senior year,” said Michael Huynh, a junior at Burbank High School.
Since Woodbury uses BUSD curriculum and teachers and rents the same textbooks used in BUSD-approved courses, students easily transfer credit for the class to their transcripts. Students from other schools work with their district or administration and registrar to verify acceptance of course credit before enrolling in the courses.
“We are especially grateful to Cartoon Network for providing 20 student scholarships this year!” commented Flynn. “Because of CN, we have students completing courses in Algebra 2, Spanish, Health, Pre-Calculus, US History and World History.”
“Peggy told me about the summer scholarship program, and it fit perfectly into the gifting program that Cartoon Network has established in Burbank,” said Zita Lefebvre, Director of Operations and Community Relations for the studio. “We have supported it for several years.”
“We are pleased to be able to send 20 students to summer programs to enhance their education in the arts. Perhaps one day we will have one of these kids working at Cartoon Network,” Lefebvre added. “As a business in Burbank we are happy to be included in these programs that support the youth of the community.”
“BUSD admin continues to work closely with Mauro Diaz, Kelly Nittoli, Don St. Clair from Woodbury to ensure the courses are aligned, the teachers are top notch and that the cost was the lowest in the region,” added Flynn.
“I think that many of the more motivated students realize that it is a really good thing to be able to get a class out of the way,” commented World History teacher Wayne Tipton, who also teaches Social Studies at Jordan Middle School during the regular school year.
“Many of the kids are in the vocal or instrumental departments in high school. Some are athletes or dancers, so we have a fairly eclectic group. When they take a class in the summer, they are able to take an extra elective class during the year,” he added.
“I think that my former students who take my class in the summer remember that I tried to make it fun for them. They may have a more nostalgic take on it, but I try to keep it similar to what they remember,” Tipton also said.
“History is not exactly the favorite subject for many, so I try to make it as interesting and painless as possible. Since I get to teach them at kind of an awkward age in middle school, it is nice to see them at an older age.”
“I try to make the class as interesting as possible. We all realize that we are in the same boat, five and one-half hours a day, so we try to make the best of it,” Tipton continued.
“The students are bright and interested and know quite a bit about a lot of topics. I learn things every day from them. The summer classes here at Woodbury are so much less stressful. I have always liked teaching in the summer and the classes I have taught at Woodbury are really a great gig.”
“I wanted to get ahead so that I can take the more of the classes I love during the regular school year.” said Maddie Seiffert, a junior at Burroughs High School who is taking World History. “Now I will be able to fit Musical Theatre and Play Production into my schedule in addition to my English, science and math classes next school year. Plus I get to spend the summer at Woodbury – I love this place!”
“I wanted to take Health this summer because I want to play golf and be in the Burbank High School marching band next year. This is a great option for me to be able to fit both into my schedule as a freshman,”said Adam Barnfather. “I’m glad I did it. The homework isn’t that bad – I can finish it in class most days or bring it home. It’s only four days a week and we get out at 1:00 p.m. so it still feels like summer.”