The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


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Untraditional high school

Students enroll in various types of alternative learning options.
Remi Nuss
During his 7th hour honors chemistry class, sophomore Aadit Gupta [right] learns how to count in large amounts by measuring mass with his classmate Dhirav Kamble [left], Sept. 15. “Taking an all honors and AP schedule makes it hard to keep up with work and takes up a lot of family time and time away from friends,” Gupta said. “If you handle it responsibly though, it will definitely have a positive impact.”

Over the span of several years, the Blue Valley School District (BVSD) has created various career-ready programs for students to enhance their learning experience. These programs have been known to help students get a jumpstart on their college education or enable them to learn more about a career they are interested in. 

Senior Amyia Laskey is enrolled in the Dual Degree program offered through Blue Valley and Johnson County Community College. She was introduced to the program by her counselors.

“I chose to enroll in this program to get a head start on college because by the time I graduate high school, I will have my first year of college done, and honestly [to] save some money,” Laskey said.  

She said her first semester enrolled at JCCC has been unique compared to her years in high school.  

“You get to experience things that you wouldn’t at high school. You meet a lot of great new people,” Laskey said. “You get to have a college experience before you transfer to a college or university.” 

Additionally, Laskey said the coursework is heavier at JCCC and it requires more time outside of school to finish class homework. 

Laskey said that the Dual Degree program at JCCC has helped her further her college preparation. She said by the end of this year she will have earned 30 college credit hours which will help her pursue her end goal of majoring in business. 

Similarly, senior Carter Beach is enrolled in the JCCC welding program. He said he enrolled in this program to learn basic knowledge of welding and receive three college credit hours. 

“I saw videos on social media and was like this is something interesting, and I might as well take advantage of it and see if I want to do it after high school,” Beach said. “I know myself, I won’t be able to sit at a desk job.” 

Beach said he felt apprehensive going into this school year as it would be a different experience from his traditional high school schedule.

“At the start of the school year, I was nervous because I knew it was going to be a lot of work. Now that I’m into it, as long as I can get my homework done, it’s not difficult. You have to stay engaged in class every second, so it’s tough, but I like it,” Beach said. 

Furthermore, taking the welding course at JCCC comes with many challenges because of the technicalities involved in welding, according to Beach. 

“Welding is very difficult because it takes a lot of practice and time. You have to figure out what is comfortable and the right approaches that will not cause your weld to be ineffective due to impurities,” Beach said. “In this class, you have to dig deeper rather than scraping the surface of what you can really do.” 

Although Beach is unsure of his plans after the course, he said the class has helped him see if this is something he could pursue in the future. However, he said students who want to pursue the welding field should join this program. 

“If you hate sitting in class all day and writing a lot of notes, I would say it is nice to experience a different class environment. You get to see everyone’s perspectives coming from different backgrounds and see why they have chosen to go into the field,” Beach said. “You are under control of what you can do.”

BVSD Career Ready Program liaison Sarah Beren said she believes the career-ready programs are a remarkable resource for students who are looking for something beyond their high school. She said there are many programs students can enroll in during their high school career. 

“We have nine programs where students can earn a certificate in a high-demand, high-wage field. We also have a partnership with the Overland Park Fire Department so we’ve got a lot of pathways for kids,” Beren said. 

With the costs of a four-year college, Beren said this program can be a miracle for families because Blue Valley helps pay for tuition. 

“Blue Valley pays $300 a semester in books so students can reduce their college debt by half. It’s free college and life-changing,” Beren said. 

Additionally, Beren said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected students’ perspectives on traditional education. She said it can be influential to students who want to graduate with a certificate allowing them to get a high-paying job right out of high school.

“Since the pandemic, there are a lot of students and families who are acknowledging that four-year college might not be for them,” Beren said. “Our kids are graduating with a certificate that allows them to get a high-paying job right out of high school.” 

Additionally, students can receive college credit and college-level experiences at their high school through advanced placement (AP) classes. Sophomore Aadit Gupta is currently enrolled in AP Modern World and AP Physics at BVNW. He is enrolled in virtual AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, and AP US History. 

“Everyone’s goals are different. I think for me it’s important to take AP classes because I’m able to show proficiency in higher-level classes,” Gupta said. “People try to enjoy their high school experience and take lighter classes, but I like to challenge myself by taking advanced courses.” 

Furthermore, Gupta said AP classes are more coursework and fast-paced. He said it is necessary to stay on top of the workload in much heavier classes. 

“AP classes are considered untraditional because it’s a lot of work, and it’s not always the best idea to put so much of a workload onto yourself,” Gupta said. “It’s a lot of self-learning, but I plan on taking twelve more throughout the next two years.”  

Although Gupta said AP classes are rigorous and require outside work, he expressed admiration toward AP classes preparing students for real-world experience. 

“I think AP classes give you a new perspective on how things tie into the real world. They prepare students for college because a lot of the coursework is mapped out,” Gupta said. “We do a lot outside of school work. It’s not just about academics, it really teaches you about general time management, growth and learning.”

2023 alum George Buckley graduated early after three years at BVNW. Buckley said he received his school credits throughout his middle and high school years. 

Buckley said that he wanted to graduate early to earn life experience in the working field. 

“I lived in Overland Park my entire life and I loved it. I made so many awesome friends that I know I’ll talk to until I die,” Buckley said. “But when you live in Overland Park your whole life you kind of wonder, ‘what else is out there?’”

Buckley said that he was challenged with uncertainty in his next stage of life after graduation. 

“It’s all a bit liberating. When you’re in high school, you know what the next four years of your life look like. [Now], I don’t know what I’m going to be doing every day. I wake up and I find out if I have a job or not,” Buckley said. 

Despite the challenges, Buckley said he is grateful for the opportunity to explore his career. Buckley recently finished his Mariner schooling and received his Mariner certification in hopes of becoming a steward on a boat. 

“I felt like there are so many promising opportunities outside of Overland Park and I do plan on going to the University of New Orleans eventually,” Buckley said. “I just wanted some time between high school and college to explore and work to earn money.”

Buckley said that graduating a year early has helped him gain life experience and explore his profession. He currently resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. where he is applying for jobs in the area. 

Likewise, Laskey said that the JCCC program gives more freedom to juniors and seniors who are looking more into their future. She also expressed that it gives you more time to plan ahead and focus on things rather than basic schoolwork. 

“It’s a great opportunity if you are willing to put in the work and try hard. Take a shot at something you’ve never done before,” Laskey said.

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About the Contributors
Blen Belachew
Blen Belachew, Writer
Blen Belachew is a junior and a writer for "The Express." This is her first year on staff. Blen is involved in NEHS and Spanish NHS and plans to participate in NHS this coming year. Outside of school, she loves to spend time with friends and family, binge her favorite Netflix shows, go on walks, and travel. Blen is very grateful for this opportunity to continue her skills in writing for the newspaper, and is looking forward to the year ahead! 
Sanaee Joshi
Sanaee Joshi, Writer
Sanaee Joshi is a sophomore and contributes as a writer to “The Express” on her first year on staff. She sings in the Blue Valley Northwest choir in Vox Animae. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends, cooking, singing, reading, and drawing. Sanaee can’t wait to be a part of “The Express” team.
Remi Nuss
Remi Nuss, Chief Photographer
Remi Nuss is a senior and Chief Photographer for “The Express.” This is her third year on staff. Outside of newspaper, Remi is a part of the varsity volleyball team, connections, National Honor Society and Quill & Scroll. In her free time she loves to travel and spend time with her family. She is excited to spend her last year of high school in her favorite class. 

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