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High school freshman in Florence are able to get a jump early on the college scene thanks to a partnership between the school system and Northwest Shoals Community College.
Starting next fall, 50 incoming 9th graders in the Florence City School System will start to take college credit courses and trade classes from Northwest Shoals Community College. The unique program will have students graduating with an associates degree from college while graduating high school at the same time.
Lynne Hice, Florence City Schools assistant superintendent of curriculum, said students won't leave their campuses to take the college courses, but that will change in the future.
"The instructors are at Northwest Shoals but we also provide instructor support through our school," said Hice.
The school system partnered up with Northwest Shoals to offer career paths in medical assisting, welding, general liberal arts, and child development.
"The courses that fall under career tech umbrella, those courses are free to students," said Hice.
If a student sticks with the program they will graduate high school with an associates degree in college.
"They will be leaving high school as a junior in college. So that really helps propel them into the next level," said Hice.
Incoming high school freshman, Malorie Campbell, is taking part in the new program. She said me she'll be taking the general courses. She wants to be a doctor one day and says knocking out her early courses will help her future. Campbell said she was a little nervous about signing up at first, but since the program is built to ease freshman into the college courses that helped calm her nerves.
"It's real exciting to graduate and have a head start from other people," said Campbell.
Florence City School officials said this new program is modeled after one in Texas. If the program is a success they hope to expand it to more curriculum in the following years.