School system not worried about Early College High application numbers

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JACKSON, Tenn. — The Jackson-Madison County School System is preparing for its first year of Early College High, set to open this fall. But according to officials, not all 125 spots will be filled. “The opportunity to graduate from high school with an associate’s degree, I think that’s a great opportunity for my career,” Early College High applicant Tydarius Blackwell told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Friday. Blackwell is one of nearly 80 8th graders who have applied to be in Early College High’s first class. In the school, students will graduate high school with an associate’s degree at no cost. It is an opportunity Blackwell said will help him down the road. “An associate’s degree will be two years of my life I could be already going a career that I proceeded in,” Blackwell said. “All of our students need to be prepared for some level of post-secondary, and so this just gives them a head start on that and makes the possibility more real for them,” said school board chairman Jim Campbell. The school board approved plans for Early College High at their March meeting with an 8-1 vote. Even with application numbers lower than their 125 person cap, board members said they’re still excited about the program’s future. “It was never a hard number that we really needed,” Early College High and North Side High School Principal Jason Bridgeman said. “I know the superintendent early on told me if we had 50, that’s more than enough to start the program.” The school system said getting the program started will build the needed momentum to make it a success. “We thought it was vital to get this first year behind us,” Bridgeman said. “We had a lot of community support, a lot of industry support, so we want to build off that momentum.” School board members said next year the system will start promoting the program earlier in hopes of having a larger number of students apply.

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