New Bryan High School to Prep Students for College

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College preparation is the focus of a new high school in the Bryan Independent School District.

Starting in August 2007, 100 ninth grade students will get an early start to finishing their college career. Students who attend Bryan Collegiate High School will be given the opportunity to earn 60 college credit hours in addition to their high school diploma through a partnership with Blinn College and Texas A&M University. College courses will be offered tuition-free to students.

BISD officials also don't expect there to be any impact on Bryan's school taxes.

"I think it will have a very minimal impact, if anything," said Ernie Ritter, an assistant superintendent with Bryan Independent School District. "We will be paying tuition out of the grant and out of the open funds, but I think when we look at the other side of the impact on the students and them getting an education and being able to pay taxes, it's very much a positive impact."

A pair of grants totaling more than half-a-million dollars landed in Bryan to start up the school, of which there will eventually about 20 in the state with TEA grants. School officials say whatever funds would have been spent on those students at Bryan or Rudder High would be spent on them at Bryan Collegiate.

The school will open August 2007 with 100 ninth grade students. An additional 100 students will be added each year until the maximum enrollment of 400 ninth-through-twelfth grade students is reached.

School officials say several of the benefits of the campus will include a small school setting, tuition-free college credit, and a college culture versus a traditional high school experience.

Bryan Collegiate, which was named by BISD trustees Monday night at their board meeting, will serve students who have a sincere interest in academics, a willingness to work hard and reside in BISD. The new high school is designed to increase the number of low-income students and first-generation college-bound students.

According to the district's statistics, of the 100 students accepted for the new school, 49 of the soon-to-be ninth graders are from Jane Long Middle School. Thirty will be coming from Stephen F. Austin, and the remaining 21 currently enrolled will be from Sam Rayburn.

Those same stats show 54 of the 100 are Hispanic, while 26 are white, 19 are African American and one is Asian. Also, 64 are eligible for reduced lunch.

Some 130 students sent in applications for the new school, writing essays to convince district officials that the would make the ultimate efforts in the accelerated schools.

"Some of them already know their career goals, or they want to be the first to go to college, or even the first to graduate high school," said Christina Richardson, the principal of Bryan Collegiate. "You read these papers and they're just full of all these hopes and dreams of these students."

ECHS will be located in a wing at the Lamar Campus. The location for the 2008-2009 year will be determined after the opening of Rudder High School.

In addition to deciding the school's name Monday evening, trustees also agreed on the Panthers as the school's mascot. Its colors will be primarily blue, with silver and maroon trim.