News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: October 18, 2019

Klein realizing nursing dream with collaborative CollEDGE UP program

Fennimore -

A partnership between CESA 3 and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore, Wisconsin, is allowing area high school students an opportunity to get a jump start on higher education and career plans, at an affordable cost.

One of those students is Gracie Klein, 17, a senior at Lancaster High School. Klein is enrolled in the CollEDGE Up 11-12-14 Nursing program. During her junior year she completed some general education classes at Southwest Tech and this year she is taking nursing classes, as well as her traditional high school classes.

Klein heard about the program from Mark Uppena, principal at Lancaster High School. After learning that Klein may be interested in a healthcare career, he spoke with Klein’s mother, Kim, and “I decided I wanted to try it out,” said Gracie. “I’ve saved a lot of money with Southwest Tech and a lot of time, too.”

“I’ve always been interested in the gritty, gory stuff in TV shows,” said Gracie. “I’ve watched a lot of TV shows like ‘Untold Stories of the ER,’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ and I just wanted to help people.”

Even through it is early in her nursing education, Gracie has picked up plenty of important skills already. “I’ve learned how to take blood pressures,” she said. “I know where to listen to breathing points and I know some more signs and symptoms of different diseases. I am also CPR certified.”

“A lot of my high school classmates come up to me and ask me questions based on sicknesses,” she joked, noting her family does as well.

Gracie attends high school Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and then goes home to listen to lectures and complete nursing homework. She attends a Nursing Fundamentals class on Mondays from 5-7 p.m. and a Nursing Skills class on Saturdays from 7-10:15 a.m. at Southwest Tech. “It is pretty busy, but it is all worth it because I am getting a really good head start,” she said. “And I still get to be a high school student and have that high school experience.”

In her free time, Gracie enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to movies and attending high school football games on Friday nights.

Following graduation in May, Gracie plans to continue at Southwest Tech to each an associate’s degree in nursing and then eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing elsewhere.

As for a career path, Gracie’s options are open. She has thoughts about becoming a labor and delivery nurse or maybe working in an ER. She currently works at the Orchard Manor nursing home in Lancaster as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant).

The program is working well for her and Gracie offers advice to other high school students who are thinking about their futures. “I’d say not to rush into anything, but if you do kind of have an idea of what you really want to do, go for it, and then if you change your mind, that’s fine,” she said. “A lot of people change their mind and change their majors. There’s nothing wrong with that. Still make time for fun.”

In addition to a full academic load at Lancaster High School and working on her nursing degree at Southwest Tech, Gracie was recently named the homecoming queen.

“We’re proud of all of her hard work because it takes a lot of extra time and we’re amazed at the amount of discipline that she has,” said Kim.

As a parent, Kim is well aware of the challenges of navigating their children through the path that is higher education. She is grateful for the CollEDGE UP program. “I think it’s a really good thing to be a part of,” she said. “It’s a really good opportunity. To be able to get a head start and be in college courses, but yet also be a part of high school so they don’t miss out on the high school experience is great.”

“I’m really hoping that Southwest Tech and high schools can team up and offer some more classes and more fields to offer a jump start,” added Kim.

CollEDGE UP is offered through Southwest Tech as part of a student’s Academic Career Plan (ACP). It allows students to save money and time in earning a degree, it may allow for time for other classes or to work while attending college, and credits earned can move students up in the registration process.

The three areas covered by the CollEDGE UP program include One and Done Laboratory Science, 11-12-14 Nursing and Gear Up general education transferable courses.

This nursing program outlines how students can take nursing classes, beginning with their sophomore year in high school, continuing through their senior year and ultimately finishing the second year of the nursing program on the Southwest Tech campus.

The CollEDGE UP program is offered to all school districts in the Southwest Tech district through an academy/cohort format. The classes are offered at each high school in the following formats:

  • SRTNC (BlueJeans); synchronous video lecture or recorded video lecture
  • Online (Schoology)
  • Face to face if the student wishes to attend the Southwest Tech campus

The program began in fall 2018 and has been growing at a rapid rate. In fall 2018, a total of 17 students from five school districts, Boscobel, Black Hawk, Lancaster, Mineral Point, and Potosi, enrolled in a total of 103 credits. In fall 2019, the number of students has grown to 47 students enrolled in a total of 173 Southwest Tech credits. Districts represented this fall include Barneveld, Black Hawk, Boscobel, Cuba City, Fennimore, Highland, Ithaca, Lancaster, Mineral Point, North Crawford, Pecatonica, Potosi, Richland Center, Southwestern, Wauzeka-Steuben and Weston.

For more information, contact Mary Johannesen at 608.822.2367 or

Posted in Nursing