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Agreement signed to create new school

School superintendents signed an agreement Sept. 6 at HCC to create an Early College High School on the campus, benefiting area students. In attendance were, front row from left, Northampton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathi Gibson and Halifax County Schools Superintendent Geraldine Middleton; back row, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Superintendent Dennis Sawyer, HCC President Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr. and Weldon City Schools Superintendent Dr. Eli Bracy III.

Halifax Community College (HCC) and the Roanoke Valley Business Education Partnership in collaboration with Halifax County Schools, Northampton County Schools, Roanoke Rapids Graded School District, and Weldon City Schools were recently awarded a $40,000 grant to develop plans for the creation of an Early College High School Program. Superintendents from the school systems came together on Sept. 6 to sign the agreement at HCC. This marked the first time that all four school districts have come together for such a project.

Plans are to open the Early College High School program in 2008-2009 on HCC's campus. It will be established as a rigorous four- to five-year program that will ensure that all of its students complete an associate's degree or are prepared to successfully complete a bachelor's degree with graduation from high school.

Since four out of every 10 high school students do not graduate and fewer than half of students who go to college complete a two- or four-year degree within six years, the Early College High School Program is needed. Efforts are designed to raise the high school graduation rate and to create new schools that help all students graduate as strong citizens ready for college and work. Research shows that students entering the workforce will need the same level of academic rigor as students planning to go to college.

Early College High Schools ensure that all students remain in school and are college ready and that schools are accountable for student achievement. They serve as an effective bridge between the high school and institutions of higher learning to improve graduation rates and to increase the number of underserved youth who will graduate with a high school diploma and two years of transferable credit or an associate's degree.

Students will be selected through an open application process from the four school districts. A committee of representatives will manage the selection process.

The college preparatory program will be grounded in literacy immersion, project based learning, and real-world performance assessments. Students will be engaged in using the history, economy, and natural scientific arena of the community as a learning laboratory.

Learn and Earn Early College High Schools are supported by the NC New Schools Project and are members of a state-wide effort under the guidelines and support of the NC Department of Public Instruction and other NC New Schools Project partners. Governor Mike Easley launched the Learn and Earn Early College High School Initiative in September 2004. All high school reform operates under the umbrella of the NC 21st Century High School Initiative.