An education program unique to the state got a boost Wednesday.

Officials from the St. Joseph School District and Missouri Western State University signed an articulation agreement that offers high school students the chance to earn three hours of college credit after completing the High School of Business program with a 3.0 grade point average.

The agreement was signed at Western by Dr. Bob Vartabedian, president of Western, and Dr. Jaime Dial, director of secondary curriculum and instruction for the school district, in front of about 90 students who are currently enrolled in the program from the three public high schools.

“Business skills are very important to all the professions I’ve dealt with over the many years of my career,” Dr. Vartabedian said to the students. “To have this high school biz program, whether or not you major in business, it’s really going to give you a leg up on your career. I think you’re making a wise choice.”

The High School of Business program is a project-oriented initiative geared toward high school students who are considering a business major in college. They take six courses that are similar to business courses offered at higher education institutions, the last of which is a community service project.

Linda Krehbiel, director of business, marketing and information technology for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, attended the signing. She said the St. Joseph district is the only one in the state offering such a program, and there are a total of 15 states with high school business programs.

“We’re trying to create that bridge between high school and post secondary,” she said of her staff, which is under the office of college and career readiness. “I think this is just kind of a way to be able to do that, to open the avenues so students can see what’s actually happening after high school and how it can be applied.”

Ms. Krehbiel said rigor and relevance is what’s right for students, and that the pilot program here will be integral in providing feedback to DESE as the program progresses.

“Any time you can get the community engaged and engage employers and engage post-secondary, all these pieces together,” she said, “that’s what’s best for the kids and our economy.”

Dr. Dial said this is the first articulation agreement they’ve signed with any institution. The program is in its second year.

Jimmy Myers can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPMyers.

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