Clewiston High School will have at least 46 students enrolled in the new College Academy with Florida Southwestern University.
A kickoff meeting took place on Tuesday, Aug. 8, to get the program going.
Director Jose Roquett has taught in Hendry and Glades county schools for the past 13 years and is excited to take over the new program.
He noted each student had to carry a 3.0 grade point average or better, and have high test scores in reading, writing and mathematics.
“We have worked for the past six to eight months to help the kids get the test scores so they can join the dual enrollment program,” he noted.
Thirty-one of the students are juniors.
In the past, Clewiston students had to physically drive to a college campus in Belle Glade or in LaBelle to take college courses.
Mayor Mali Gardner has pushed hard since 1999 to make it more convenient for Clewiston kids. The Hendry Education Task Force met in 2016 to try to get the program going.
“We knew there was a learning gap and we needed to have access to college courses. I felt our students deserved the dual enrollment program,” she added.
“I congratulate the Clewiston administration, guidance counselors and Florida Southwestern for working together to get this done. I feel we strengthen a community through good education.”
The student’s families will save thousands of dollars as the students earn college credits and even an associate’s degree before they graduate from high school.
Roquet estimated that the parents will save between $235,000 and $300,000, perhaps more. That is revenue that will stay in Clewiston and can help the economy.
The classes will begin on Aug. 21. The students will take a full college course load equivalent to a general studies curriculum. They will also be taught by fully accredited college professors.
“It is truly exciting. A lot of people have worked very hard to make this a reality,” Mr. Roquett added.
Under construction at Clewiston High School is a new vocational and technical training facility. This will help students who don’t want to attend college get a chance to learn a skill and get certified in various career fields. They will be ready to join the job force immediately after graduation.
Mr. Roquett mentioned Hendry County Schools Superintendent Paul Puletti, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Eglee, Mayor Gardner and high school Principal Roberto Sanchez-Deleon.
About 100 people were in attendance to kick off the program on Tuesday, Aug. 8.