Students attending Richmond Early College High School started their first day of classes Tuesday on the campus of Richmond Community College in Hamlet.
“We have 51 students in this group,” said RECHS Principal Michael Chapman. “This is far greater than the last four years, and we plan to keep growing our numbers.”
Chapman spoke to a group of incoming students and their parents, trying to prepare them for the challenges ahead.
“This is one of the top early college programs in the state,” said Chapman. “We meet high growth in every area.”
Recent state reports on the school announced that it was named as an Honor School of Excellence, and that at least 90 percent of its students are at or above grade level.
“Students in this program get A’s and B’s in college courses,” said Chapman to the group. “The standards are a lot to live up to, but you won’t be walking this path alone. We’ll be in close contact with parents throughout this process — for the good and the bad. There are much higher expectations for students who choose this program.”
Each student is assigned a mentor to guide them through the entire program.
“This year, I’m the mentor for the incoming class,” said Chapman. “This will be tough. Students double up on English and math courses, and then start adding college classes during the second year of the program.”
Students who choose the route of RECHS graduate high school with a diploma and an associate’s degree. They can seek employment using the associate’s degree, or choose to transfer into a four-year university as a junior, only two years away from a bachelor’s degree.
“Students can follow the associate art or science degree, or graduate under the mechanical engineering or business school programs,” said Chapman.
Unlike a traditional first day of school, students weren’t given any time to get back in the swing of things after a summer break. They filed right into their classrooms after orientation with their parents, and got to work.
“We have a lot to cover in a little bit of time, so we’re going right into it today,” said science teacher Janice Russell, as she began to pass out papers to her class.
Nicholas Vincett, a 14-year-old student whose brother graduated from the program, said he knows what to expect and is up for the challenge.
“I chose this program because I wasn’t really interested in regular high school,” said Vincett. “This is a more mature environment and the people who come here are more focused on the work.”
Kayla Fesperan, another incoming 14-year-old student, said she’s heard from friends what she should expect.
“It’ll be really tough the first year, because we’ll be getting high school classes out of the way,” she said. “But then it will get better, because we can start taking college courses. I wanted to come to this program because the class sizes are so much smaller, and it’s a really good step toward my future — I’ll be graduating high school with a diploma and a degree.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org