Enrichment school to have WOU link

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE -- Western Oregon University will be involved with a proposed accellerated learning program for teen students in Central School District.

Eric Olsen, a Monmouth real estate developer who spearheaded the idea almost a year ago, said the WOU Preparatory School -- or "WOU Prep" -- should be ready to enroll 10 to 15 junior high students this fall.

The 2006-07 school year will serve as a trial run, with the program focusing on an early-morning or "zero period" writing course that will be taught by a Talmadge teacher.

Costs and tuition for enrollment will be finalized by mid-June, Olsen said.

Olsen said the school's name stems from his desire to utilize Western as a resource. Some members of the college's English department will advise on curriculum and evaluate writing samples.

"We wanted to develop as much of a relationship as possible with Western," Olsen said. "Our ultimate intention is to offer a dual-enrollment program with the college, where junior and senior students would receive credits at the university."

WOU Prep will be a not-for-profit entity funded by tuition and grants. A scholarship program will be set up for low-income families. Start-up costs could total $100,000.

If WOU Prep is successful in its inaugural year, Olsen hopes to add high school enrollment and more slots for junior high students the following year. More students would be admitted based on academic ability and teacher recommendations.

It will be a very rigorous program, Olsen said. He hopes to add more subject offerings, from fine arts to science, as it develops.

"Right now, we're trying to determine how much of a market there is."

Cornelia Paraskevas is a English professor at Western who recently volunteered to evaluate a writing competition sponsored by WOU Prep (eee related story).

She said the program "makes perfect sense."

"The idea of having an enrichment program that would be accessible to everybody, giving them access to a quaility education, is the most egalitarian thing we can do," Paraskevas said.

For more information on Western Oregon Preparatory School: Eric Olsen at 503-838-1600 or eric@olsencommunications.com.


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