ECISD Looking Into Early College High School for Students

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A new type of high school could be coming to Odessa, one where students could actually graduate with a high school diploma and a college diploma at the same time.

It's called Early College High School and it's an innovative way of learning that blends both high school and college classes all in one.

Students can get their Associate's Degree all by the time they finish high school and ECISD is looking to get on board.

"This would be a very positive way to really boost college awareness and university awareness in our community," Dr. H. T. Sanchez, ECISD Chief of Staff, said.

Dr. Sanchez said they want to give their first generation college students a new opportunity.

"A lot of kids in those situations think college is too hard for me, it's too difficult, it's too expensive, I'm not meant for college," Dr. Sanchez said.

NewsWest 9 told 60% of the ECISD student population qualifies for reduced or free lunch.

"People will hear at risk or economically disadvantaged and make an assumption that the kids don't have the ability to do great things academically but all that means is it's a financial situation," Dr. Sanchez said. "It has nothing to do with how much tenacity or how much heart or how much intelligence the student has."

Dr. Sanchez said UTPB has been in talks with the district to partner up for this.

MISD has an Early College High School on the Midland College Campus.

It's in its fourth year and Principal Jeanette McNeely said it's been hugely successful and the atmosphere is more like a family.

"Generally smaller classes, a really close-knit, tight faculty," McNeely said.

She said almost all of her students there are first generation.

"They're changing that in their families, that whole dynamic of going and getting an education and a professional level job," McNeely said. "That's the magic about it, that's what's so incredible about it."

ECISD is only discussing an early college high school for now, however Dr. Sanchez said if it happens, they'd like to see a strong backing behind it.

"It can't be do it just to do it and say there we got one," Dr. Sanchez said. "It's to make sure that kids will attend it, that they're interested in and that the desire is there."