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Students say ‘goodbye’ to Early College

Freshmen and sophomores see one school close, prepare to get ready for another

Posted: May 29, 2009 8:36 p.m.
Updated: May 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Early College High School students receive orange graduation cords during Friday's closing ceremony at College of the Canyons. The school will join with Academy of the Canyons in the fall.

The students and staff of Early College High School gave a final farewell to their school Friday during a closing ceremony that highlighted the achievements of 134 freshmen and sophomores during the school’s short, two-year history.

Throughout the ceremony, parents, students and teachers took to the stage set up on the grassy Honor Grove at College of the Canyons to honor the students and thank founding Principal Erum Jones.

“She didn’t just see a school. She saw you and saw what you could do, given the opportunity,” Early College High School teacher Felicia Heath said.

It’s hard work that teachers like Heath watched pay off.

“In talking to those children and parents, she helped establish what I think is a minor miracle in this valley,” Heath said.

It was a thought echoed by student speaker Lindsay Riportella.

“I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity. None of this would have been possible without our principal, Ms. Jones,” she said.

In its two years, Early College High School, made up of freshmen and sophomores, earned an Academic Performance Index score of 889, the highest in the William S. Hart Union High School District. The school’s 10th-graders recently achieved a 100-percent pass rate on the California High School Exit Exam, a first for the district.

Early College High School will merge with Academy of the Canyons, a high school made up of juniors and seniors, in the fall. The four-year college preparatory school will meet at the nearly-completed Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center when the 2009-10 school year begins.

The Hart district formed the Santa Clarita Valley Early College High School two years ago to reach a population of minorities and low-income families often overlooked in traditional high schools, but who still maintain the potential to attend college.

Chuck Limon, parent and PTSA treasurer, remembered his son’s experience two years ago when he went up against 200 students vying for just over 100 spots at the new school.

“When we got that letter of admission, no one was more excited than our son,” he told the crowd of families and Hart district administrators.

During their time at Early College High School, the students have taken rigorous classes that earned them high school and college credits at the same time, he said.

The experience led students to grow, Limon said.

“We as parents have watched our Early College High School students mature,” Limon said.

Superintendent Jaime Castellanos took the stage to congratulate the students for their hard work.

“I’m extremely proud of each and every one of you,” Castellanos told the students. “I wish you the best of luck and parents, thanks for your support.”

During the ceremony, each student went on stage to receive an orange graduation cord, representing their time at Early College High School. The students will wear the cords when they graduate from Academy of the Canyons as the class of 2011-12.



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