A unique partnership between Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the three public school districts in Kewaunee County is designed to give local high school students greater access to college-credit courses in several career exploration areas.

It will become official during a ceremony that begins at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 27, at Algoma High School when NWTC President Jeffrey Rafn and the superintendents of Algoma, Kewaunee and Luxemburg-Casco school districts will sign a charter for the newly formed Ahnapee Regional Technical Academy (ARTA).

The ARTA, which also involves the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. (KCEDC), is designed to allow students to explore their career interests while earning high school and college credit at the same time. Students gain valuable hands-on experience in jobs that are especially needed in Kewaunee County and in Northeast Wisconsin.

Rafn gave the Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors a preview of the academy during his annual report to the board Tuesday evening.

“Each of the three school districts have decided which areas they would focus on, and students can go to any one of those areas and still be part of their own school district,” Rafn said. “We have done a lot of work in terms of creating dual-credit programs so students are earning credits while they’re in high school that are also credits that will apply to the degrees that we have.”

The academy also helps the three school districts maintain a focus on fiscal responsibility by sharing resources among the districts, he said.

Algoma, which recently completed a new technical education center, will provide classes in CNC, Machine Tool, and Emergency Medical Technician. Kewaunee, with its newly opened Agricultural Learning Center, will provide Agriculture and Welding education.

Luxemburg-Casco’s offerings will include IT-Software Developer classes and AP coursework. Nursing Assistant classes at NWTC’s Regional Learning Center in Luxemburg will also be part of the Ahnapee Regional Technical Academy program.

Jennifer Brown of KCEDC is on the ARTA team providing business information, tours, and summits to bridge the gap between employers and students.

Jeffrey Rafn

Jeffrey Rafn, president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, describes the new Ahnapee Regional Technical Academy during the Kewaunee County Board’s April 18 meeting.

“These partners have come together determined to serve the students, the local businesses and the community in a new and innovative way,” Rafn said. “Their ability to share curriculum, resources, and teachers in the interest of increasing opportunities for students is admirable.”

County Board Supervisor John Pagel, who also serves on the Kewaunee School Board, said the consortium is a way to provide opportunities for young people in an era of declining enrollment.

“Everybody specializes in one area instead of all three school systems trying to deliver everything, which we cannot afford to do,” Pagel said. “I give credit to NWTC for helping the three school systems in putting this together. It’s a big deal for Kewaunee County.”

According to an NWTC news release, students may enroll in these classes at their own school or another based on their interests. However, they will maintain their home school enrollment status. There are no additional fees for students although they are responsible for their own transportation.

Many of the academy classes are scheduled for the second half of the school day allowing students plenty of time for classes and for returning to their home base for after school activities.