ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County’s newest school, set to open this fall, is nearing capacity.
Earlier this year, the Bladen County Board of Education approved adding an Early College, an opportunity for high schoolers to finish school with an associate’s degree. Considered a school unto itself, the College will be housed on Bladen Community College and taught by its instructors, while being funded by the state and administered by Bladen County Schools.
Early College Principal Rodney Smith recently appeared before the Bladen County Board of Education to update members on the progress of the school, which will be available in the fall to 60 juniors.
“We’re continuing to get kids moving in from out of county,” Smith informed the Board. “We currently have 50 students enrolled and will continue accepting applications through July 31.”
Similar to the College and Career Promise program already in place, Early College differs in its focus — priority will be given to at-risk, ESL, or first-generation college students.
Bladen Community College is already undergoing renovations to accommodate the new program, Smith said. Building 17 is being remodeled to accommodate double steel doors that will allow delivery of the hot meals that will be available to students for breakfast and lunch.
“These aren’t pre-packaged meals, but hot ones,” remarked Smith.
A conference room is in the works, as well as one big classroom being subdivided into four smaller rooms.
Four teachers will provide instruction, and personnel will be rounded out by a curriculum liaison specialist, a data manager/office assistant, and a counselor.
“We will go out and recruit the best,” the principal commented.
The school’s mascot will be the nighthawk — an insectivorous and nocturnal bird — a decision made to give a nod to the Knights and Eagles of East Bladen and West Bladen high schools.
Staff have already scheduled several events.
— July 23, 5 to 7 p.m.: Nighthawk Family Picnic — program information and building tour
— Aug. 2: Open house and laptop deployment
— Aug. 5: First day of school for students
School board members welcomed the update of their newest institution.
“Keep up the excitement, and this time next year we’ll be twice as happy,” said Chair Vincent Rozier.
Applications for Early College may be obtained by contacting the Bladen County Board of Education.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing email@example.com.