The Mississippi Department of Education, in partnership with East Mississippi Community College, will open the state’s first early college high school for kids who show potential for academic success but need a different type of setting.

Modeled after a similar program called North Carolina New Schools, Golden Triangle Early College High School will help students earn both their high school diploma and an associate’s degree from EMCC at the same time. Or they can get nationally certified in a technical field instead.

“These are students who have the capacity to work at a higher level but maybe they’re hanging out with the wrong group of people or need more support,” said Massey, who is now an associate superintendent at MDE. “These are students who maybe have high test scores but low GPAs.”

The high school, located on the EMCC Mayhew Campus, will pull 50 rising freshmen from five nearby school districts who successfully complete the application and interview process. Fifty more rising freshmen will be added the next year, and 50 more the year after that, until the high school reaches a capacity of 200 kids in grades 9-12.

Applications for the first cohort are due March 31, and officials expect to make their final selection by the end of the current school year.

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