New Programs for Post-High School Prep

Mr. Tracey outlines some new opportunities

Dylan Wolter ('22), Orbit Contributor

With school returning to its pre-pandemic state, RMHS is creating opportunities to help students make the transition to life beyond the classroom more seamless in order to prepare students for whatever pathway they may take. 

With 2022 fast approaching, the school is looking towards the future and how it can improve educational opportunities in the years to come. Mr. Tracey, Principal of RMHS, shared his knowledge of the school improvement plan, in specific regards to preparing students for secondary education and life after high school. Whether it be pursuing a trade, securing a job, getting an associate’s degree, or additional years of higher education, the high school is seizing opportunities to ensure students get the best out of their education here in Reading. 

In an interview, Mr. Tracey stated, “The dual-enrollment piece [of the School Improvement plan] is exciting and there are a few different things going on [within the high school]. One in particular is to look at the program of studies and determine career pathways based on the current program of studies.” For example, RMHS has computer science at the higher levels, but not any of the introductory courses. In order to address this, the school is looking to join a group called Project Lead the Way which would train a teacher in a four course course so that students get a thorough education in a particular subject.

Mr.Tracey described that participating in these initiatives, students would be introduced to a career path and at the end of their studies have the opportunity to do an internship, senior project, or capstone that would apply their knowledge. This would allow students to pursue pathways such as Computer Science, Biomedical, Criminal Justice, Engineering, Business/Finance/Marketing, Humanities, Visual and Performing Arts, Human Services, and more, while also preparing them to pursue these fields either at the higher level or shortly after graduation. 

RMHS is also hoping to offer dual-enrollment as early as this spring. The school reached out to both Endicott College and Merrimack College. In regards to these actions, Mr. Tracey stated, “We realized we had an opportunity. We reached out to the schools and Endicott was ready to go. We will be piloting two classes next semester, specifically Criminal Justice and an Introduction to Hospitality Services.” 

These classes would only be available to seniors and would be based on volunteers. A lottery system would be implemented if need be. The classes will be held virtually at the high school but will be taught by an Endicott Professor and the students will receive college credit. 

While the space and number of classes will be limited for this initial round, moving forward RMHS would like to expand not only its dual enrollment with Merrimack but also internships in general. Mr. Tracey stated, “In a perfect world I would like a bank of one hundred – two hundred – three hundred internship opportunities where seniors, after completing their course of study, go out and do an internship and not be physically tied to the high school for their fourth quarter. They would then have to come back and present to a panel what they learned during their time.” While he communicated that “it would be tough to orchestrate, it would be greatly beneficial to the students who want to get an early edge in their possible field of study.”  

Tracey also described an opportunity for students who “are struggling [at RMHS] with a typical schedule or expectations. The school is looking at a program called Gateway to College which would put a student immediately in a program to receive their high school diploma and then into an associates degree at Middlesex or Northshore Community College.” 

Finally, Mr.Tracey also touched upon a partnership with Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School. Currently the school is about to undergo a 320 million dollar renovation which would leave the school in pristine condition and be ready for larger partnerships in the future. “The school has an idea where students would do 3-4 hours of classes at RMHS in the morning but then doing a modular or particular course of study at Northeast in the afternoon. So it is kind of the best of both worlds. It would be especially helpful for students in their Junior or Senior year who are struggling to engage but wanting to come out with a viable skill” Mr. Tracey added. 

Overall, said Mr. Tracey, “There are a lot of opportunities and it’s exciting but [RMHS] isn’t ready to define it’s full pathways.” The school is ready and prepared to take next steps to implement the programs that were listed and ensure that students are ready for their life after high school but it’s going to take time. These changes will happen in stages but in the meantime look forward to the initial rollout of dual enrollment in the spring