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Learners To Leaders

April 13, 2014, 10:00 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Learners To Leaders

Going to college these days can be very expensive.

But a program through the Sioux Falls School District is helping kids get college credit for free.

Walk into a classroom at Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls and you'll find a wide variety of ages.
Some might even be in high school.

"In my classes they don't know that I'm in high school and they treat me just the same," said Milana Arambasic, participating in Learners to Leaders.

Milana Arambasic spends half her day at Roosevelt High School, and the other half in college classes. She's able to get this valuable experience thanks to a program the Sioux Falls School District offers seniors, called "Learners to Leaders."

"The program is sponsored in full by Smithfield Foods, a parent company of John Morrell. And so the students do not have to pay any tuition. Everything is covered within the program, including their books," Learners to Leaders facilitator Kim Herdina said.

Not only is it saving the students thousands of dollars in college credits, it's also helping them get ahead for their future.

"They are able to take classes in a specific program area. For example, business like Milana is in. And they get to experience that and just see, well do I like this? Or is it something for me? Or maybe it's not what I thought. And it's a no-risk way," Herdina said.

"By the time I'm going to be done I'm going to have a semester done of college already. So that's giving me a lot of cushion to the future," Arambasic said.

A future that's a little clearer now.

"I thought it would be cool to say I'm in high school and I'm a senior but I'm also in college. But I've learned a lot more than that. I've learned time management skills and how you represent yourself is how people view you," Arambasic said.

Milana isn't alone.

"This year's graduating class of 24, they all plan to continue their education," Herdina said.

Herdina says the district looks forward to growing this program, to allow even more opportunities for the students.

This is the 7th year for the Learners to Leaders program. There are guidelines to qualify for the program. Herdina says students can ask their guidance counselors for more information.

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