Art instructor Shelly Johnson and senior Nicolette Harris discuss color theory in pieces of art done through the Kendall dual-enrollment program at Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High School.

Archived Story

Earning Kendall credit in Cass

Published 3:45pm Thursday, May 17, 2012

The art room at Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. Cassopolis High School has been producing more than just students’ projects lately. For the past three years, instructor Shelly Johnson has been helping students achieve college credit through the Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.
The dual-enrollment program, only offered at Cassopolis High School, allows students to earn three college credits per class. Of the four 100-level classes offered, students attend instruction from 3 to 5:30 p.m. two days a week, coinciding with the Ferris State University (FSU) semester calendar.
“After the school day ends, these students come into a college class,” Johnson said. “It’s a rigorous college-level program, and you have to know if you’re equipped, capable and ready.”
While the classes may be comprised of students pursuing different college majors, each one must meet certain criteria. Some of the requirements set for acceptance into the program include a portfolio review with Johnson, a minimum GPA of 2.75, commitment to the classes, strong work ethic and exceptional artistic talent.
“As long as you can push yourself and get your priorities in order to succeed in the classes, it’s worth all the effort and time,” junior Devan Hillyer said.
Johnson, a graduate of Kendall in 1980 and 2005, agreed, saying taking these art classes can wipe out a freshman semester at art school for some students, saving money on university tuition prices. For others who may pursue different majors, the classes offered can account for elective credit courses. The cost to enter the program is originally set at $1,660 per student. Kendall College waives $1,000 of that fee.
“Our students this year received the rest of their funding through the Cassopolis Public School Foundation,” Johnson said.
With the program in its third year, Johnson said she hopes to extend the opportunity to other area students. While the classes will still be taught at Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. Cassopolis High School, there is no limitation on who is accepted into the class as long as they have the artistic talent to back it up.
“I don’t want kids to think they’re coming into a rival high school environment,” Johnson said. “This is something I hope more people will take advantage of; the rivals dissolve here in this room.”
Past and present students in the program realized the rigor, but the importance, of the classes.
“Without this class, I wouldn’t have had the high-level portfolio I needed to get into an art program,” senior Samantha Stutzman, who will be attending Kendall College in Grand Rapids in the fall, said.
Nicolette Harris, a graduating senior who will begin classes at Southwestern Michigan College in the fall, said the relationships formed with classmates helped her appreciate the experience.
“You become a family,” Harris said.
Johnson said she is excited to see how the program grows and she hopes more people take notice of the opportunity.
“These students leave better prepared to enter a college-level art program,” Johnson said. “There’s some pretty magical things happening in this little room.”
For more information, contact Shelly Johnson at (269) 445-0541 or by email at

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