Lafayette Parish School System is teaming up with South Louisiana Community College for a new early college credit high school academy launching in the fall 2008 semester. The program is the first of its kind in the state. High school students attending the academy for four years will earn a high school degree as well as an associate’s degree from SLCC, with two years worth of transferable college credits. Students also will be given the opportunity to take courses at the Louisiana Technical College campus neighboring SLCC.

The new academy has a limited enrollment of 100 students per year. Students can begin applying today at Lafayettechoice.com. If more than 100 students apply, a lottery will determine which students are admitted. All students are eligible to apply provided they have passed the LEAP test. Students who are admitted will begin the school year at their regularly zoned high school tomorrow, and then transfer into the academy beginning August 22. The academy will provide students with the state approved TOPS high school curriculum as well as offering them electives through the community and technical colleges. Burnell Lemoine stresses students who take all the required courses will earn an associates degree at no cost to parents. The program is being funded entirely through LPSS and SLCC, with the possibility of some state grant monies. Lafayette Consolidated Government also is partnering in the program to provide free transportation to students on city buses. In addition, community sponsor Cox Communications will be providing all the academy’s students with free laptop computers.

Lemoine took part in a trip just last month to visit an early college high school program in Raleigh, North Carolina, and upon his return, immediately began working toward implementing a similar program here. Because of the enthusiastic support of state superintendent Paul Pastorek, SLCC Chancellor Jan Brobst and the community, Lemoine says they were able to launch the academy this year. While still a relatively new concept, early college high school programs have been successfully taking root over the past decade. There currently are 160 programs in the country. Lemoine says LPSS’s Jumpstart program –which allows dual enrollment for high school seniors to take college classes – has been extremely successful, with more than 700 students signed up for the program this year. “That in itself tells you that so many of these students are ready to start taking challenging college level courses,” Lemoine says. “It’s creating opportunities. Not all of our students are going to be going to college. This will work for us and our students."

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