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100 BISD students commit to Early College High School

April 17, 2019

The crowded student event drew comparisons to the signing day ceremonies where athletes make their college choices official.

But the 100 or so Beaumont ISD students and parents at this celebration on Tuesday were there to commit to Beaumont Early College High School. The district teams with Lamar Institute of Technology to provide college course credit for those who tackle the more challenging curriculum.

“They’re choosing a challenging path, to take high school and college at the same time,” principal Melanie Pharis said. “By being accepted they are basically getting a scholarship for 60 credit hours completely free”

ECHS students can earn both a high school diploma and and an associate’s degree from LIT simultaneously. Pharis said the goal is for every student to get a degree.

An ECHS student can put their collected credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree or transfer their 42 core credits earned at LIT to any degree plan at any public college in Texas, said Miranda Phillips, dean of Strategic and Workforce Initiatives.

Students can also participate in instrument technology or process operating coursework, offering students a head-start on a degree that can get them a job in Southeast Texas’ booming petrochemical industry.

Students pay nothing to attend ECHS, and Phillips said she expects there to be a wait list for enrollment in the near future.

ECHS opened in August 2016 and currently has about 240 students in ninth to 11th grade, Pharis said.

The program aims to provide at-risk or underprivileged students with an opportunity to get ahead academically, Pharis said, adding that many of her students were first-generation college students.

“We take college and make it accessible for student who may not have had a way to get there before,” she said.

The class of 2023 will follow the original ECHS freshman class, which is set to be be the first to graduate in spring 2020.

haley.bruyn@beaumontenterprise.com

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