The Socorro Independent School District selected the first cohort of students for the new early college high school programs set to open for the 2019-20 school year.
“We were very excited that the Texas Education Agency allowed Team SISD to move forward with the launch of three more early college high school programs,” said Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “Socorro ISD will be the only district in the region to have an early college high school program in each comprehensive high school. This shows that we want equity in SISD. We want the same kind of opportunities for all students.”
The Empire Early College at El Dorado High School, the Falcon Early College at Eastlake and the Pebble Hills Early College will welcome 135 incoming freshmen from their feeder areas to the program.
Early college high school programs give students the opportunity to graduate from high school with up to 60 college credit hours or an associate degree, along with their high school diploma.
Students who applied to the programs were selected at recent lottery events at the high schools. Representatives from El Paso Community College, University of Texas at El Paso, district leaders and staff, and even mariachi groups and mascots, attended to take part in the first-ever selection process for the new programs.
“We had 226 applicants at our campus,” said David Herrera, director of the Pebble Hills Early College. “All applicants were assigned a number and we drew them one at a time in front of all representatives present. We were transparent about the entire process.”
Students who were selected for the program received an acceptance letter. Those who were not selected were placed on a waiting list in the order in which they were picked.
“We are thrilled that our feeder pattern will provide our students a K-16 environment,” said Vanessa Betancourt, principal at El Dorado High School. “Our scholars will have the opportunity to learn in a postsecondary environment, earn college credit and achieve high levels of success.”
SISD, in collaboration with El Paso Community College, offers the most early college high school programs in the region. SISD opened Mission Early College High School, the first program of its kind in the region and one of the first in the state, in 2006.
The district opened three more within a three-year span – Socorro Early College in 2015, Rams Early College in 2016, and Trailblazers Early College in 2017. In June 2019, Socorro Early College will celebrate its first cohort of graduates.