New school holds promise

Published 3:28 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

By Staff
A new chapter in the history of education began Thursday at Beaufort County Community College when the new Beaufort County Early College High School opened its doors for the first time.
The new school, on the BCCC campus, provides an opportunity some students should not pass up.
The new school targets first-generation college-bound students. Graduates of the five-year program, which is tuition-free, will earn a high-school diploma and an associate’s degree from the college. Those are excellent academic credentials to have at age 17 or 18. Earning those credentials will not be an easy thing to do. The first half of the five-year program is made up of a slightly-accelerated high school curriculum and the second half is made up of the community college’s associate’s-degree curriculum.
Students at the new school should find it challenging. It’s overcoming that challenge that makes the five-year program more than just an academic exercise. The new school’s students, by meeting that challenge, will leave the school with more than just an education. They will leave knowing they can, with hard work and perseverance, overcome many of life’s challenges.
Many people will be examining the new school and its students closely. That should be the case. By observing, people can determine what’s working and not working. As for what’s working, those things should be nurtured and shared with others. As for what’s not working, those things should be fixed when possible so they do work or they should be discarded if they cannot be modified so they produce positive results.
The students’ academic prowess will be tested, evaluated and re-evaluated. However, the testing that’s coming should not get in the way of their learning. How the first several groups of students perform during their times at the new school will play a key role in determining what happens with the new school in several years.
With Todd Blumenreich serving as the new school’s principal, students attending the new school should find an ally when it comes to their academic pursuits. Blumenreich’s performance will be under the microscope, too. His influence at the new school and on its students will be evident in how those students perform in the classroom.
It’s probably a safe bet that Blumenreich and the school’s teachers will have the school surpassing expectations.
The new school holds much promise, but just what is that promise?
Can that promise be fulfilled? Data provided by the Early College High School Initiative and published in this newspaper several months ago indicate it can.
Last year, more than 900 students graduated from 17 early college high schools around the nation. “Their achievements far surpass those of their peers from traditional high schools serving similar populations,” reads the Web site. Preliminary data show that:
Hopefully, the new Beaufort County Early College High School will fulfill its promise. Its students, and society, deserve nothing less.