Dual enrollment program at Helena College encourages high school students to pursue interests

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Posted at 5:28 PM, Oct 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-31 11:37:00-04

HELENA — It’s never too early to start pursuing your career goals. Helena College’s dual-enrollment program allows high school students the opportunity to pursue the trades while simultaneously obtaining their high school degree.

“For us, it's really buying into what our community buys into. It's a very historical blue-collar community that prides itself on the ability to do trades,” says Brian Kessler, East Helena High School Principal.

Caleb Daum, a senior at East Helena High School, started a 2-year machining program at Helena College this fall. He’s participating in this course from around 7 AM to 1 PM Monday through Thursday before heading back to East Helena to finish up the school day in the classroom. Plus, Daum was doing all this while playing football for East Helena this fall.

Kessler says that Daum is an exemplary student who is the perfect fit for such a program

“Caleb is one of the hardest-working kids I've ever had a chance to work with. He knew probably two years ago that this is what he wanted to do. And so, he made it happen,” says Kessler.

Daum was able to participate in such a program after completing the majority of the necessary graduation requirements during his freshman through junior year. Stephanie Hunthausen, Executive Director of Career Technical Education and Dual Enrollment at Helena College, says that while these types of full-time programs aren’t easy, the school wants to open up this program to more students in the future. This can include other trades programs including automotive, aviation, metals technology, and more. Students can also participate in any other program offered at Helena College.

“We’re just very committed at Helena College to making sure that students can start earning college credit in their junior and senior year and we try to tailor that educational experience to them,” says Hunthausen.

While this program takes a lot of discipline and hard work, Daum says it’s worth it because it’s getting him to what he really wants to do more quickly.

“It's like, yeah, just get it done and then you can go do the fun stuff like a machining course or some of the other courses here that you're interested in. So, just to show, like, yeah, if you excel at high school and you just get stuff done and just kind of grind at it, you can move on to the stuff you're interested in and that you find fun, quicker,” says Daum.