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Early College Academy to expand to HACC

early college academy

Oxford Area School District Superintendent David Woods and Harrisburg Area Community College Provost Dr. Cynthia Doherty shake hands after signing an agreement between the school district and the college to partner on an Early College Academy program that will provide Oxford Area High School students with the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree from HACC in addition to their high school diploma. Looking on are OASD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones and Stephen Ampersand, HACC Vice-President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

On March 14 representatives of Oxford Area School District (OASD) and Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) signed an agreement to expand OASD’s Early College Academy program to HACC’s Lancaster Campus, beginning in August. OASD began offering early college options in 2014, and as demand has grown Superintendent of Schools David Woods sought a Pennsylvania partner to ensure that all eligible students could enroll in college courses as early as ninth grade.

“It is very important to our school system to create innovative pathways to make college more accessible and affordable for our students,” said Mr. Woods.

The Early College Academy weaves college coursework into student schedules beginning in ninth grade. Students simultaneously enroll in courses that fulfill high school graduation requirements and associate degree requirements. When students complete their secondary school years, they are able to earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in general studies with a concentration in their area of interest.

Throughout their enrollment, students participate in seminars that strengthen their academic readiness and broaden their awareness of college expectations.  “We recognize that these students are starting their college studies at a young age,” said Stephen Ampersand, HACC’s Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “HACC is committed to making sure students not only receive a quality education but also receive the tools and support they need to be successful throughout their enrollment.”

Each year 25-30 students will be selected for admission to the Academy.  Prior to their freshman year, Academy students will participate in a summer orientation program to introduce them to college life, academic expectations, and resources available to them during their four years in the ECA.

Throughout their enrollment, students are supported by tutors, mentors, and college advisors.   While taking classes, students are guided through seminars and individualized advising to help them build the academic skills needed to succeed in high school and college coursework.

Upon graduation students can transfer to four-year colleges having already completed two years of college.

oasd and hacc  

Seated from left are Oxford Area School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, Superintendent David Woods, Harrisburg Area Community College Provost Dr. Cynthia Doherty and Stephen Ampersand, HACC Vice-President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Standing from left are Oxford Area High School Dean of Students Andrew Wendle, guidance counselor Jennifer Williams, Dr. Diane Lane, OASD Early College Academy liaison; Dr. Victor Ramos, HACC Lancaster and Lebanon Campus Vice-President; Dr. Matthew Goodman, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, HACC Lancaster Campus; and Tim Barshiner, Dean of Student Affairs, HACC Lancaster Campus.

Currently, HACC has transfer agreements with most public and private colleges in Pennsylvania and many out-of-state institutions, which eases the transition for Oxford students. Additionally, college advisors will assist students with the transfer process during their senior year of high school.

“This is an exciting partnership for the students in our school district,” said Mr. Woods. “HACC is making it possible for Oxford students who want to jump-start college while in high school to do so.”