By ADAM EMERSON | The Tampa Tribune
Published: December 11, 2008
When Hillsborough Community College opened its Ruskin campus next to a public high school, leaders of the college and the county school district had what seemed to be an obvious goal:
Develop a program in which the students at Lennard High School can get a jump on higher education by earning college credit at HCC.
That idea came to fruition this week when the Hillsborough County School Board signed off on the proposed Lennard Collegiate Academy, which aims to reach down as far as middle school to place students on the track to college.
School officials say students enrolled in the academy can complete up to a year of college credits at HCC and save as much as $4,000 in college tuition and textbooks.
"It goes without saying how absolutely exciting this is," school board member Doretha Edgecomb said this week.
The idea, administrators say, is to get more Lennard High students thinking about higher education. Many qualify for free and reduced-price lunches and come from households where neither parent attended college.
Students bound for the academy would need a 3.0 grade-point average or the recommendation of a guidance counselor. The program places students on one of two tracks.
Track one: Students are identified for their college potential while attending Beth Shields Middle School, which feeds many students to Lennard High, and given support to prepare for college studies and college placement tests.
Track two: More talented students who need little academic support may begin college-level courses as early as their sophomore year.
Reporter Adam Emerson can be reached at (813) 259-8285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.