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Camden Early College begins milestone year

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

CAMDEN — Camden Early College held its first day of classes Monday with eyes on a milestone graduation ceremony next spring.

The school’s Class of 2020 will be the first to have attended all four years of high school at Camden Early College. The niche high school, located in a cluster of buildings on the campus of Camden County High School, was previously known as CamTech High School but became the current Camden Early College in the 2016-17 school year.

This year’s seniors at Camden Early College entered ninth-grade as early college students and are the first class to do so.

Camden Early College also welcomes a new science teacher this year, Rick Lage.

Amber Davis continues serving as principal of both Camden Early College and Camden County High School. The dual role for Davis was piloted last school year and proved to be successful enough that Camden Schools Superintendent Joe Ferrell decided to continue it this year.

Cris Fields is serving as assistant principal at Camden Early College for the 2019-20 school year.

Sophomore Caroline Lilly said she was excited about having two college courses this semester, in math and psychology. She’s also looking forward to taking a chemistry course taught by Lage.

Lilly said she’s not sure what she would like to do for a career but probably will gravitate toward a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field because she enjoys math and science.

Lilly’s mother, Jennifer Lilly, is a teacher at Camden Early College. Caroline cites her mother as a major influence in her decision to attend the early college.

“I always heard such good things from her,” Caroline said.

Caroline participates in the Camden High School band, which is one of the options at the school open to Camden Early College students.

“I really love band,” she said.

Davis said the first day of classes went well.

“It was a good start — very smooth,” Davis said.

Fields said she is excited about being at the early college.

“It offers the kids a lot of different pathways and opportunities,” Fields said.

The early college’s enrollment this year includes 41 seniors and seven “super seniors.” The super seniors are students who stay for a fifth year of high school in order to complete an associate’s degree at College of The Albemarle.

This year’s graduating class will be significantly larger than last year’s, which had 28 graduates.

Camden Early College has 180 students this year, which is approaching a cap set at 200.

This year’s freshman class has 34 students.

Previously the school took up to 50 freshmen a year, but this year is the first under a new policy in which the freshman class can’t exceed one-fourth of the total number of freshmen in the Camden school district.

Davis said the new approach is intended to maintain a balance in the student body between Camden Early College and Camden County High School. It also is intended to keep the early college at a manageable size given the added challenge of scheduling for students who take both college courses and high school courses.

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