Those of us who work in Early and Middle College High Schools have long understood the potential impact, accomplishment and success of our model. It seems that the US Department of Education is validating our experience in the naming of five Consortium schools as Blue Ribbon award winners in the last year.

San Joaquin Delta Early College and Santa Ana Middle College HS have won the prestigious award multiple times . This year we can add North Houston Early College HS, Middle College HS at Christian Brothers University in Memphis and Academy of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California to the ranks of the country’s most prestigious schools.

The Blue Ribbon award is granted to schools after completing a rigorous application process and documentation Students at these schools attain high levels of achievement despite obstacles. Only 335 schools achieved this status this year.

Middle College HS at Christian Brothers University, under the leadership of Docia Generette-Walker was only 1 of 7 schools selected in the entire state. Dr. Generette Walker stated, “ I credit our success to the outstanding group of educators who spend countless hours supporting our students each day.” The school is also being recognized this year by the US DOE as an “Exemplary Performing School, “ a category that recognizes schools with achievement scores in the top 10 percent in their state and received recognition from the State of Tennessee as a Reward School, ranking in the top 5 percent of schools in the4 state for both academic achievement and student growth.

North Houston Early College High School credits their success to their ability to grant opportunities for successful accomplishment to their students. As part of the MCNC network they enhanced the traditional Early College model of access to college courses with free books, job shadowing, college visits, and STEM camp. A graduation requirement for all their students is completion of 400 hours of community service. Their consistent success in both their accelerated academic work and their commitment to their communities are one cited feature for students’ success once they leave and move on to complete their bachelors and post graduate degrees. Despite their humble beginnings, these, mostly first generation college going youngsters earn as many as 60 college credits along with completing their high school requirements.

At San Joaquin Delta, principal Sherry Balian proudly states that most of her 240 students manage high school and college while maintaining all As and Bs. They outperform their college counterparts. Last year 32 graduated with both a high school and AA college degree. For over four years 80% of graduates have obtained 30+ transferable college units by the end of their high school career and 70% move on to a 4-year institution. Their credo is to foster belonging and do so by encouraging participation in clubs where students and teachers interact on an equal level, allowing students to gain leadership schools. Principal Balian states that San Joaquin Delta MCHS “exemplifies the power of a small school where students, faculty and staff thrive.”

Dr. Pete Getz, principal of Academy of the Canyons is proud to be one of 28 schools in the state of California to receive this recognition., seven of which are Early Colleges. Superintendent, Vicki Engbrecht dentified AOC’s uniqueness in giving students the opportunity to earn college credits and experience college life while still earning their high school diploma. The school consistently ranks at the top academically of all schools throughout the county and state and we are proud of the teachers and staff who make this happen.

At Santa Ana ECHS, founded in 1997, Principal Kathleen Apps stresses the fact that her students occupy two stories of a building for their high school classes, but inhabit and thrive in the campus of a multi building, landscaped college campus. This feature of most of the Consortium schools has always been a hallmark of the Middle/Early College model: a way to integrate who you are as an adolescent with who you can become: especially when there are few “college going” mentors, role models and peers in your neighborhood. At Santa Ana 62 of this year’s 77 potential graduates are on their way to earning their associate’s degree. The strong partnership the high school has with the college and the Santa Ana Partnership, a collaboration that includes Santa Ana Unified School District, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and the city of Santa Ana provides students with support to attend and graduate from college. The principal and staff are committed to making the initial pathway into college experiences for students, but then fostering independent experiences for individuals by allowing them freedom to enjoy to campus, choose their courses and engage in extracurricular activities.

MCNC staff joins all of its members in congratulating these exemplary programs and wishes them continued success.