Blending college with high school

Published 6:41 am Saturday, August 25, 2018

By Bobby Tingle


No matter how you approach education, it is a challenge.

Education begins when a child is born.

In those first few days and weeks, parents are the educated as they discover the unique characteristics of their son or daughter.

Children learn to interact with their parents as they attempt to mimic the words, sounds and facial expressions of those caring for them.

As early as two or three, children are enrolled in formal educational programs where they begin the process of learning to learn.

Childcare facilities provide learning and development as they care for pre-school children.

Every child is unique, with distinct abilities and aptitudes. What they need is an environment and a program, which will allow their unique interests to propel them down their chosen academic path.

By the time a child advances from newborn to high school graduate, they should have the opportunity to prepare themselves for advancing their education by pursuing a degree at a college or university. Or, they should be prepared to enroll in a technical training program to learn a trade.

Either way, the student begins by learning to learn and then applying their acquired skills, along with their unique interests, to prepare for productivity throughout their life.

Recently, I ran across an article published by The Commercial Dispatch on their website.

The headline caught my attention: ‘A different way of doing high school’: GTECHS will have full slate of students in the fall.

The article provided insight into the early college high school program in this northeast Mississippi community.

The program began with one class of 61 ninth grade students. This year the school will take on four classes with a total of 255 students in grades 9-12.

According to the article, the program has been successful, while also being something less than a traditional approach.

Students attend classes at a local community college rather than on their respective high school campus.

Students give up some of the traditional aspects of a high school ‘experience’ such as band, sports and other campus organizations.

What they accept in return is the opportunity to earn a high school diploma while working toward and possibly earning an associates degree from the community college.

Early college high school programs are not unique to this corner of Mississippi.

Ninth grade students at West Orange-Stark (WOS) will have the opportunity to pursue the dual degree program offered in Texas during the 2018-2019 school year.

This is the second year of the program.

Students enrolled in the program will benefit from the Technology Lending Grant, which will provide a laptop and mobile wi-fi to each student equipping them to do college assignments at the time and location most convenient for them.

Lamar State College-Orange has partnered with WOS to provide the unique aspect of the program, a chance to earn college credits in high school.

A few weeks ago, Pinky Lewis, a subscriber of The Orange Leader, was in the office. She talked about her granddaughter Nia Lewis who is enrolled in this unique program.

Grandma Lewis is grateful for granddaughter Lewis’s ambitious pursuits.

I asked her about granddaughter Lewis’s opinion of going to college and high school at the same time.

Lewis, according to grandma, is having fun while pursuing both degrees. But she admits it is hard.

According to an articled published in The Orange Leader this innovative program is not easy.

The program offers rigorous instruction and accelerated courses.

It sounds like the expectations are high.

Educational expectations should be high.

The program offers worthwhile benefits, at no cost to the student.

The program targets students who may otherwise have limited opportunity to pursue a college degree or technical training.

The program is good preparation for pursuing college after graduation and may pave the way to do so where barriers once existed.

According to West Orange-Cove CISD Director of Communications Lorraine Shannon, the plan is to expand the degree options to include specializations such as “Process Operating, LVN and other career-driven pathways.”

Enrolled students attended this year’s summer bridge at LSC-O to acclimate students to the campus.

More information about the West Orange – Stark Early College High School program is available at their unique website:

Currently 41 students are enrolled in the program.

I hope they all have a great year and come back next year for more.


Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at