AMESBURY — Amesbury High School’s Early College program is winding down for the school year and is expected to continue next year.
The Early College program gives sophomores, juniors and seniors the opportunity to take college courses for college credit. The program is run in conjunction with Northern Essex Community College and Southern New Hampshire University.
While Early College is listed as a zero-dollar item in the proposed $32.6 million school budget for 2019-20, it will be offered again this fall, according to Principal Elizabeth McAndrews.
“This is a self-sustaining program,”McAndrews said. “Northern Essex Community College will be offering sophomore English at $330 for those three credits. There will be enough students enrolled to cover the full cost of that course and will not cost the district any money there.”
McAndrews said the program’s senior composition 1 and 2 courses are also expected to be filled and Southern New Hampshire University will offer U.S. history 1 and 2 as well as an English course for $100 per three credits.
“The cost is directly passed on to the participating families, but $100 for three college credits is pretty darn good,” McAndrews said.
The Early College program benefited from $100,000 in state aid last year.
“The state usually does come through later on but now is the time for us to make decisions,” McAndrews said. “If we get additional funding, then that will allow us to do other things beyond what we are currently doing.”
Early College students begin taking their classes as sophomores at Amesbury High, then become eligible to take courses on NECC’s Haverhill campus as early as their junior year.
Senior Griffin Short entered the Early College program when he was a sophomore and took college-level history courses as well as sociology and a first-year seminar class by the time he was in his junior year of high school.
Short took two courses in Haverhill his senior year, which he admitted presented its own college-level challenges.
“The only problem with college classes was the fact that I couldn’t find anything to do when I was done,” Short said. “I had a class at the high school which started (at 8 a.m.) and then I took two classes at NECC. So, after my first block class here, I would leave or either go to class or go home.”
Many of the Early College program students are in the same class together from sophomore to senior year which, Short said can create a tight-knit group.
“It’s like a completely different world than taking other classes at the high school,” Short said. “You get to know everyone and everyone gets comfortable with each other.”
Short graduates from Amesbury High next week and believes he will be able to enter NECC as a college sophomore to study mechanical engineering in the fall.
“I’ve got 33 credits, so that’s at least a semester of college done already,” he said. “Technically, I’ll be going in as a sophomore but I will be taking classes to get everything I need to transfer to Merrimack College.”
When asked if his parents appreciated the money they saved through the Early College program, Short answered simply, “Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.