A program that started at Hermon High School nearly a decade ago that allows students to get a jump on college credits while also learning the technical skills they’ll need in a career — whether in health care, cooking, business, public safety or other fields — has since spread across the state.
Now called Bridge Academy Maine, it started in 2012 as a pilot program for about 14 Hermon High School students. They took courses at both their high school and at United Technologies Center in Bangor. At the time, they had to pay just $20 for each credit that counted toward an associate’s degree from Eastern Maine Community College.
With the backing of then-Gov. Paul LePage and funding authorized by the Legislature, the program has since expanded across the region and state, according to Brian Langley, a former state senator from Ellsworth who now heads Bridge Academy Maine, a nonprofit organization that helps coordinate the offerings between the different participating high schools, technical centers and colleges.
Roughly 150 students from communities such as Bangor, Ellsworth, Stonington, Houlton, Lewiston and Farmington now receive college credits each year through the program, which has a goal of reaching 200 students next year.