POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - Three local ninth grade students are getting a step ahead in their educational path.
Nikolai Cummings, Kameron Bowers, and Layton Landon are students attending Gem Prep, a K-12 charter school in Pocatello. They are all currently on track to complete their 4-year college degree right after high school graduation.
Cummings says this opportunity wasn't available to him before moving to Pocatello and attending Gem Prep.
"They make it much easier," Cummings said. "I was wanting to get an associate's, but in Kansas, I would have had to be 16. I would have had to do a bunch of paperwork, and keep a very, very high grade point average in order to get scholarships that would actually pay for it."
Bowers says the class size of the school helps separate Gem Prep from a traditional public school education.
"At a public school, there's probably 20 to 30 kids in each class, and that's a huge difference, because I feel if you have one teacher, and they teach to 30 kids, it's completely different than one person teaching to 12 or 15 kids," Bowers said.
The three students have varying interests on what they might want to pursue. Cummings says he is planning on getting a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or in law. Bowers says he is contemplating astrophysics, computer science, and business school.
For Landon, Gem Prep will help prepare him to go in one of three directions.
"The three that I've kind of thinking about is math, robotics and computer science, just because I enjoy math and electronics," Landon said. "So, I want to do something in that general direction."
Gem Prep students arrive to campus each day and follow a schedule designed specifically for them. They attend some classes with peers, and some classes virtually in the available private study rooms or the high school commons area.
Gem Prep Schools Federal Programs Director Tera Reeves says the school's flexible schedule works best for their students and their future.
"They can pursue their academics in the way that works best for them and not be confined to a bell schedule or the four walls of a classroom," Reeves said. "They can just set their own pathway."
Reeves says that for all of their students, she expects them to have multiple college credits upon their graduation.
"Our expectation for all of our scholars is that 60% or more to have completed their associate's degree by the time they graduate, but the rest of them to have at least 18 really purposeful college credits by the time they graduate from Gem Prep Pocatello," Reeves said.
The school lottery registration window is open (for grades K-11), now through March 9, 2021. Families interested in enrollment may apply through the website at www.gemprep.org.