Preparing for a Bright Future: Billings Central Catholic High School

October 1, 2019 | by tyller moline

Simply Family Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Billings Central Catholic High School’s Principal Shel Hanser about what sets their school above the rest. Home of this year’s Simply Amazing Teen Kyra Brockhausen, Central continually sets the bar high when it comes to giving students an excellent, well-rounded education with their focus on Faith, Family Spirit, and Academic Excellence.

Guidance and Support

The amount of pressure riding on students' shoulders is only growing, and a considerable amount of stress comes from standardized testing. Yet, BCCHS is there to help Central High students relieve some of this pressure and guide them. First, teachers run through writing prompts, and other test prep work in class, to help Juniors practice. Second, the students have test prep software available to them on their iPad – the school provides every student with one – which they can utilize during their free time. As Principal Hanser noted, many students take advantage of this opportunity because “The ACT has become a gatekeeper for many scholarships as well as college admissions, and the kids understand that.” Finally, and most importantly, the faculty is there to offer moral support or someone to talk to when students begin to feel overwhelmed.

Preparation Turns Reward

Students put a lot of time into preparing for the AP and ACT exams. Central High's test scores are reflective of their hard work and dedication to a successful outcome. Although all the scores are excellent, the AP exam’s pass rate is the one that stood out most to Principal Hanser: “We had 72% of our kids receive a three or higher. That is important to us because these results are comparing like-students across the country that are taking the same AP level classes.” 

Technological Skills

Central offers students numerous options for Advanced Placement and Dual Credit classes, including two options for AP Computer Science. Students interested in a computer science degree who take these AP classes will be a semester or a full year ahead of their peers when they get to college.

One of the great things about taking AP and DC classes is that Central High students receive college credit upon completion. “We have kids that leave here taking 8, 12, 16, 20 credits with them onto the college campus,” said Principal Hanser. Students really appreciate saving money on tuition. Having already earned college credit before ever stepping onto a college campus can put a student a semester or even a year ahead of where they would be without having taken those classes during high school.

Secret to Success

Although there are many secrets to Central's success, Principal Hanser explained the one that appears to be most vital: the combination of high academic expectations with activities and participation. “We have about 80-85% of our kids involved in Montana High School Association activities, whether it is sports, speech/drama/debate, or music.” Being a part of MHSA activities teaches teamwork and dedication. Being involved in an activity combined with taking upper-level courses goes back to time management. It teaches students how to balance and juggle the many things they have going on in their lives. As Principal Hanser said, this skill will be something they can utilize wherever life takes them next, whether it be the workforce or college. It is safe to say Billings Central Catholic High School is on track in their preparation of students for a bright future. 

Upper-Level Courses Offered at Central

  • AP English
  • AP Calculus
  • AP Statistics
  • DC College Algebra
  • DC College Trigonometry
  • DC College US History
  • DC College Government
  • DC College Western Civilization
  • AP Biology
  • DC College Chemistry
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP Computer Science – JAVA
  • AP Computer Sciences – Principles

Originally printed in the October 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

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