COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Schools in Muscogee County are closing their doors this week for summer vacation, but before the final bell rings we want to take you inside one of the high schools. It's called Early College Academy of Columbus and we will let the students and staff tell you all about their school.
Christy Grigsby, an English teacher at the school, explained, "Early College Academy of Columbus was founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was designed to support first generation college goers as well as minorities because they are underrepresented in college campuses."
Early College Academy freshman, Breyunnah Ward said, "We are housed in Kendrick but we are a school and people get us mixed up and think we are a program but we're not. It's an awesome opportunity to come."
"It's an opportunity to go to college early. You go to college your junior and senior year. If you take all your CSU classes, you'll have two years of college done," added freshman Jazzylove Tolbert.
Early College freshman Austin Lewis told News Leader Nine, "It's better than AP courses because you'll be taking actual college classes."
Matthew Lucier is graduating at the top of his class from Early College and said he has thoroughly enjoyed his last four years at the school, "I am very proud to be valedictorian of this great school. I'm actually graduating high school as a sophomore in college. It's success, that's what it means to me."
"It's a real small school so the teachers here really care and they'll help you out a lot and give you the individual attention you need," explained sophomore Kareema Bedell.
The class of 2011 salutatorian Chazminn Hall said the level of education is one thing that makes Early College Academy stand out from the other high school, "If you want strictly academics and to be somebody who is really focused on their future, then I encourage you to come because you get great opportunities that other people don't."
Sophomore Michael Stephens said the leadership in the school is what motivates the students, "She's a very good principal, she's very stern and she keeps the school in line so there are not a lot of students who get out of line and there aren't many distractions in class. When you don't have that many distractions, you're able to learn and pay attention more."
"When you look at students who are first to graduate in their family from high school, that in itself is an accomplishment and then you look at the students who go to college," said Early College Dean of Students Susan Willard.
This year Early College has a 100 percent graduation rate, and Mrs. Willard says more than 80 percent of this year's graduates have at least a "B" average.