The students were greeted by North Carolina Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders, who not only encouraged the students to pursue their academic goals and dreams but spoke about Governor Roy Cooper’s School Supply Drive.
For students Lorenzo Santarina and Lee Given, the early college, which is housed in the Armory, is a chance to get a jumpstart on their education.
“Doctors are embedded in my family,” Santarina said.
His goal is to become a cardiologist or nephrologist. “There are a lot of years in medical school. Getting a jumpstart is something I want to do. In the long run it will be easier for me.”
Given, who wants to study law, said coming out of early college with an associate degree will give him a jump as well as he plans to do a two-year mission through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before studying to become an attorney. “I want to become a lawyer as quickly as I can. I want to be a lawyer like my uncle (Franklin Jones). I want to practice law like he does.”
The early college on the campus of Roanoke Rapids High School is something Superintendent Dain Butler envisioned upon his arrival.
The 71 students who have enrolled were beyond his expectations and he hopes to see that number double next school year.
He believes it will help students. “They’re in a school system in a Tier 1 area that deserves better pathways. There’s a lot of costs obtaining a four-year degree. This cuts the costs in half. It shows the school system is growing.”
The Roanoke Rapids Early College High School is run in conjunction with Halifax Community College where the students will earn their associate degree as well as a high school diploma.
“It’s a great day,” said HCC President Michael Elam. “We want to make sure the students have a wonderful opportunity for the future.”
The Roanoke Rapids Early College is the third, Elam said, and there will be a fourth with Halifax County Schools in the spring. “I like it because it accelerates the opportunity for learning and achievement. It’s a springboard into the future to get into careers a lot sooner.”
Said HCC Board of Trustees Chair Michael Felt: “There’s excitement about this partnership.”
After a tour of the Armory, Sanders said she was impressed with renovations done to the historic building to pave the way for the early college. “I’m impressed to see the diversity and feel the energy from the teachers. I’m very excited at what this school is offering. It gives me hope.”
Butler told the students assembled in the Armory gym, “We worked very hard to get to this day. We believe in you and that you will be catalysts and trendsetters.”
Sanders told the students they were part of 125 other early colleges in the state. “This partnership is exceptional and is providing you a jumpstart. It saves your family time and money. It speaks volumes of your community. We applaud you and your new school.”
She also spoke on the governor’s school supply drive which is being conducted in partnership with State Employees’ Credit Union. Bins are set up at SECU locations across the state and more information can be found at this link.
On the the opening of the Roanoke Rapids Early College High School, Sanders said, “This is a bridge to a brighter future, a bridge to opportunity.”