Kaylee Sparks and Caleb Mitchell watch a video during Music and Culture class.

Mineral Point High School juniors and seniors with a minimum 3.25 grade point average were presented with a new opportunity this year to earn college credits.

Music instructor Matt Nevers taught a class entitled “Music and Culture” which served as a chance for students to obtain dual credit on their transcripts at both Mineral Point High School and UW-Oshkosh. The UWO credits can then transfer to nearly any college of the students’ choosing.

“Dr. Francois approached me last year about this opportunity, which is a rare one as the teachers who are accepted into this program need to have a Master’s degree in their specific teaching field, which I have,” said Nevers.

His syllabus and curriculum must be approved by the university in order for the class to qualify.

Nevers is then a paid adjunct professor through UW-Oshkosh and this program is run through the state’s Course Options system, which allows students to take up to two college courses without cost to the student.

The difference between this college credit offering and that of an Advanced Placement course is the AP college credit is not automatically guaranteed upon earning a passing grade in the course, as is the case here. In AP, a student must take a national exam and score a 3 or better (on a 5 point scale) to earn college credit. There is no such exam for Nevers’ class.

This coming school year, the Mineral Point District will be part of the BOOST Telepresence Consortium with Pecatonica, Highland, Kickapoo, and Riverdale school districts. It is thought this Music and Culture course will be one of the offerings, allowing this opportunity to be available to students in four other districts as well.

Not only does telepresence allow other schools to get in on the action, but it enables our own students right here in Mineral Point the ability to take the course, because as of right now, there are not enough Pointer students signed up to run the course next school year as a standalone without telepresence.

Nevers wants to stress this class is not just for band or choir students. Most students in college are required to take a Music Appreciation course in order to fulfill a graduation requirement, therefore, students now have the option to get that out of the way while still in high school and save valuable tuition money while doing it.

Caleb Mitchell and Kaylee Sparks are the two juniors who completed the class this spring.

Both students said the course was an adjustment for them as it was quite intensive with listening exams, tests, and writing.

Some topics covered included: North American Indian Music, Early Folk Music, American Opera, Musical Theatre, Ragtime, Jazz, Blues, Swing, Latin-Caribbean, Country, Rock and Roll, Gospel, Disco, Punk, Hip Hop, Pop, and other varieties.

Mitchell stated his favorite was the Early American Music with Sparks liking the Jazz and Rock and Roll.

One of the big projects of the class was a research paper that could focus on any American classical, jazz, or Broadway composer.

“It’s my opinion that students can never write enough when preparing for college,” said Nevers. “This is a great experience to become college ready.”

Sparks and Mitchell both agreed their grades improved over time in the course, once they became accustomed to the more rigorous standards.

“I learned quickly that it was much better to study as I went instead of trying to cram for an exam,” said Sparks.

The students were rewarded for their hard work with a trip to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a stop at Gino’s East Pizzeria.

Mitchell enjoyed the class so much he is planning on re-taking the course next year as Nevers has indicated the subject matter will vary.

Sparks and Mitchell both encourage others to take advantage of the chance to earn college credit.

“It really is a different and fun opportunity,” Mitchell said.