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SALAMANCA – Many high schools offer students the chance to earn college credits before they head off to the actual thing. Most of those classes are a credit, two, maybe three, and are not always something that transfers. Salamanca High School will be adding a new class that one-ups that model.

In an agreement with Jamestown Community College, Salamanca students who excel in science will be able to take a research-based class that will be good for four college credits.

The class – Biology, a Molecular Approach – is part of a program geared at getting students into more hands-on, research-based science. The program, High School Undergraduate Research Initiative, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Right now, we have business and math classes for college credit,” high school science teacher Terri Boyer said. “This is a free class that will only be offered to those that qualify.”

Students need to have completed Regents-level chemistry and passed an Accuplace placement test.

Students taking the course will be conducting research alongside college students. For the program, students will be extracting the DNA from mosquitoes to compare and study, in an attempt to better understand how the insects can transfer particular disease to dogs.

As part of the program, Salamanca will get $10,000 worth of science equipment.

In addition, science teacher Chris Betrus will receive professional development to learn how to teach the course, familiarize himself with the subjects and carry out a 90-hour lab class to do the very things the students will be doing.

The district also will receive an additional $2,000 a year for the next three years to purchase more equipment that may be needed.

While the class is taught through Jamestown Community College, credits will be transferable to just about anywhere a student may go to college.

“The program is through an NSF grant. That gives it credibility virtually anywhere,” Betrus said.

Because of the intensive nature of the class, and the nature of research science, Jamestown Community College recommended to the teachers that class size be limited to no more than 15 students. Boyer said eight students already have signed up.

“It would be a great resumé or application piece to be able to say they were part of this, or mentioned in a published paper, should one come out of the research,” Boyer said.

The class is scheduled to start in the fall.