Richmond Early College High School
Richmond Early College High School (abbreviated REaCH) was established in Hamlet, North Carolina, on the campus of Richmond Community College. The first classes were held on August 6, 2007. It serves a student population of grades 9-13, and offers small class sizes, as well as an early start into the college atmosphere.
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Richmond Early College offers students, beginning in ninth grade, to work toward a two-year associate's degree (Associate in Arts, Science, Business Administration, and Mechanical Engineering are currently offered), as well as the high school diploma (which would usually take six years combined), and allows them to achieve both in five years or less. This program essentially allows students to substitute electives for college courses. For example, instead of a student taking an art course, the student may be enrolled in a college-level math course. Students will take on more and more college courses with their comfort and experience within the program. In their first semester (Fall, 9th Grade), they will be enrolled in ACA 118, which is a College Student Success course, teaching various techniques of notetaking, time management, and organizational methods. This class is not only very beneficial to the students for the content of the course, but it also offers the students a taste of college. All students within the class will be from REaCH, although that may not be the case in future college courses.
The 3 R's
REaCH is built upon the '3 R's' principle. The 3 R's specifically are Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships.
REaCH's curriculum is always challenging, always opening the minds of students. Rigor is an excellent part of any curriculum, as it motivates a higher level of willingness to learn. Rigor also creates situations where students more frequently use critical thinking skills to solve problems.
Every student has been in a class where they wonder "When will I really use this?" or "Why am I learning this?" At REaCH, we have those questions, too. There's only one difference. Here, the questions are answered. Every student can understand the relevance of each lesson to their daily lives. Understanding this relevance also motivates students to want to learn, as they understand the dependence of their future careers and future lives on the subject or lesson at hand.
Students claim REaCH's faculty are some of the best in the area. Every teacher is familiar with each student's individual learning styles and teachers hold an expectation for students individually, not as a class. Relationships also form within the students at REaCH. Most of REaCH's student body is familiar with at least 70% of the entire student population. The small class sizes encourage not only learning, but social extroversion, allowing students to develop themselves socially and intellectually, all at the same time.
How it all got started
Richmond Early College High School is an initiative of Governor Mike Easley and the New Schools Project, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As a result of the tremendous support of Bill and Melinda Gates, all tuition and books are provided free of charge to the students, a strong difference from typical dual enrollment.
Who can attend
REaCH is targeted at first-generation college students whose parent did not graduate from college. Household income and family marital status are among the factors used in determining acceptance to the program. REaCH reviews about 90 applicants each spring and selects 35 to be a part of the ninth grade class.