Steven Mantilla / Times-News
ABSS Early College program gets new home at ACC
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 7/12/15
Reprinted with permission.
GRAHAM — When Principal Bonnie Roane answers the phone in her new office, she calls her school the “Alamance-Burlington Early and Middle College at ACC.”
It’s a mouthful, and she could be calling it that for another two years as the Alamance-Burlington school at Alamance Community College transitions from middle to early college, but she doesn’t mind.
Early college students will start at ACC in the ninth grade, giving them more time to accumulate college credits in high school. Students don’t start middle college until 11th grade. The early college will gradually replace the Alamance-Burlington Middle College, as ABMC students graduate, and students enroll in the Alamance-Burlington Early College at ACC.
The middle and early college are getting a new, more spacious home in the main building at ACC. The middle college has been at ACC since 2005, and with fewer than 80 students last year has never been big. It held classes in some windowless rooms off the commons area and the canteen where ACC students eat lunch.
“It could be pretty noisy,” Roane said.
The middle college’s new classrooms are mostly on the second floor down the hall from the early childhood classes and ACC day care, while the early college is mostly on the third floor, Roane said, down the hall from the dental assisting classes.
The classrooms are bigger, which Roane is excited about since it will make it easier for students to work together on projects.
“Which is very difficult to do in a cramped space,” Roane said.
It will even have its own small cafeteria. The move is not complete. Things are still being stored in some classrooms and a small construction project putting up a wall to make two classrooms out of one is still under way.
More than additional space and a better view, ACC is more invested in the early college, Roane said, and even put its name on it.
“You can tell this is a real partnership,” Roane said. Roane said ABSS has needed an early college for years. There are many already up and running across the state, including several in Guilford County. Many of those are elite schools, but the ABEC at ACC, Roane said, is focused on creating opportunities to go to college, so the district selected early college students for academic potential more than past performance.
Most middle-college students graduate with 20 college credits, Roane said. Early college students will have two more years to accumulate those credits, and Roane said she expects most to graduate with an associate’s degree or college diploma, which takes fewer credits more focused on the core classes in a subject.
That gives those graduates a leg up on college or career and will not cost them anything.
Early college will still be a blend of students getting ready for four-year college and ones graduating with vocational degrees or certifications as well as their high school diplomas. They will graduate with their classes, Roane said.
With 60 students, the middle college will still the bigger part of the operation in the 2015-16 school year. There will be 40 freshmen coming in for the early college. There was a lot of interest in the early college — 122 students applied.
While she knows how many ninth-graders will be coming in August, Roane does not know who they are. Those students are just finding out themselves, she said. The letters went out late last week. Roane will see their names Monday, she said.
“The students will be the first to know,” Roane said.
She does know they will represent all the school zones equally and many will be the first generation of their families to go to college.