NUAMES offers early college at WSU

(Photo by Christina Reeki) Returning NUAMES students wait in line to receive their new schedules.

As portrayed in movies, high school can be a variety of things, but at the Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (NUAMES), it’s filled with college classes and plentiful scholarships.

NUAMES is an early college high school which offers college classes to its students through Weber State University. It aims to be “the school of choice for those seeking vigorous early college experience on a university campus,” as the mission statement states.

Alan Stokes, who just started his seventh year as principal of NUAMES, estimates that their relationship with higher-ed partner Weber State University is better than those of the other five early college high schools in Utah.

Through the NUAMES system, first year students take the American College Test (ACT) and spend a year taking high school classes to build their GPA. Their ACT score combined with their GPA are used to determine whether students are eligible for the early college program their junior and senior year.

During early college classes, these high school students mingle with college students and join their classes. NUAMES also offers concurrent enrollment classes, which are college courses taught by high school instructors for high school students only. For both class types, students receive both college and high school credit upon completion.

The goal for many students is to have earned their associate’s degree, which equates to 60 credit hours, from Weber State University upon their high school graduation. 73 out of 131 seniors in the 2014 graduating class accomplished this.

NUAMES was originally located in Roy and Kaysville, but moved onto the Weber State Davis campus eight years ago. Throughout this time, they have expanded from portables rented from the Davis School District into the buildings on the Davis campus.

Deb Hefner, the director of business operations at NUAMES, describes it as “high school heaven,” saying that each student is special because they have chosen to go to this school, rather than complying with district boundaries.

For this reason, kids come from all over Utah – from Box Elder to Salt Lake.

To help bypass transportation issues, NUAMES provided yellow school buses for students up until this year. Stokes explains this is because the school was not receiving state funding for them. As has been custom for years, the high school still provides students with UTA bus passes free of charge.

NUAMES was approved two years ago to enroll more students every year. They expanded by 50 students last year, 100 this school year and will take an additional 100 next year. There have been more students than they can accept in recent years, so NUAMES relies on a lottery system to draw the names of students who will get in. Beyond that, they keep a waiting list in case something changes.

NUAMES was rated the best high school in the state of Utah by the UCast system and second in state by the legislative system. They have received multiple awards from the Utah State Office of Education, including those for “Filling the Achievement Gap” and the “High Performing School Award.”


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