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SLHS students take on pilot program for forensic science

San Luis High School may be producing the next group of crime scene investigators. 

As part of Yuma Union High School District’s partnership with Arizona State University Digital Prep, San Luis law and public safety students are taking part in a hybrid course on forensic science.

“San Luis is piloting the opportunity to set their law and public safety students up for success in the area of forensic science by participating in an innovative lab science course that’s taught in a non-traditional manner,” YUHSD Associate Superintendent Lisa Anderson said. Mr. Ramirez assists a student in forensic science class.

There are two sections of the class consisting of around 28 students apiece. One class is overseen by SLHS engineering teacher Fernando Ramirez, while another is overseen by SLHS financial algebra teacher Daniel Coffeen. Each Thursday, ASU Digital Prep professor Bryce Wolcott, who is the teacher of record, provides instruction to students via a live online portal. The following four school days between lessons are filled with projects and work related to Wolcott’s presentation and is facilitated by Ramirez and Coffeen.

“We just got started here last week and had our first live class,” Coffeen said. “I’m pretty excited to be their teacher. I think this is going to be a great deal for San Luis and especially for the students.”

Ramirez added: “The students are engaged and working hard.”

While it’s the first time any YUHSD school has offered forensic science, it is not the district’s first foray into non-traditional instruction with ASU Digital Prep. In the partnership’s inaugural year of 2018, the district offered Math 100 for students at multiple campuses.

“One of the unique things is that students have their own Chromebook and a camera that is facing them,” SLHS Assistant Principal Rob Jankowski said. “So, the professor can see all of the students on his screen and he can call on specific students. He can interact with students pretty well. I believe [the instructor] also has planned times to come to San Luis and work on forensic science lab assignments with the students as well. It’s a unique idea and it’s exciting.”

According to Jankowski, students who complete the class will earn a science credit in addition to their Career & Technical Education course credit.

Eric Patten