An Early Guide: Opening the Gates to Northampton High School Students for 50 Years
Smith & Northampton
When Angelica Radke, then a junior at Northampton High School, visited Italy with her family to see where her mother grew up, she decided to become fluent in Italian. There was a problem, though: Italian isn’t offered at the city high school.
So, like more than 1,700 NHS students before her, Radke took advantage of a 50-year-old partnership that welcomes city high school students into Smith College courses.
The best part? Those courses—valued at more than $8.6 million since the program began—are offered at no cost to students or the school district.
Junior and seniors at NHS with high GPAs who have completed requirements in subjects at the high school are eligible to enroll in up to two Smith courses per year (only one per year for juniors). Between 40 and 60 NHS students participate in the exchange each semester.
Julie Kurose, the registrar for Northampton High School, has watched the program grow since she began overseeing it 13 years ago. Kurose noted that language courses—especially those such as Italian and Arabic that aren’t available at NHS—have been especially popular. Smith courses in psychology, history, philosophy and government have also been a large draw for high school students. Other popular courses have included Logic, Clinical Neurosciences and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.
Enabling high school students to take college courses helps boost learning at NHS, Kurose said.
These high school students are eager and capable, willing to put themselves out there, and they take advantage of the quality education around them.
“Smith is really giving us a gift,” she added. “Those are elective subject areas that we don’t cover. So, going to Smith is a great way for kids to enrich their curriculum.”
Jane Stangl, dean of the first year class at Smith, said high school students who take classes at the college are highly motivated.
“It’s a wonderful collaborative effort between the institutions,” Stangl said. “These high school students are eager and capable, willing to put themselves out there, and they take advantage of the quality education around them.”
Radke, who completed Smith courses in Elementary Italian and Italian Conversation during her senior year at NHS, said that’s what she was aiming for in enrolling in classes at the college.
“A lot of high school students want that challenge,” Radke said. “Smith was a good way to try out your interests.”
Radke, a first-generation college student, also hoped that her time at Smith would be a guide for what she would eventually look for in a college—and it was.
“I never knew how great Smith was until I got the real taste my senior year,” Radke said. She applied early decision to the college and was accepted into the class of 2018.
For more information about how Smith and Northampton work together, visit http://www.smith.edu/northampton.php.
Angelica Radke ’18 stands in front of Hatfield Hall, where she first took Smith classes as a senior in high school.