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Back to school: GRPS launches Early/Middle College Program

As the summer draws to a close, Monday marked the first day of school for many districts in the area including Grand Rapids Public Schools. While the GRPS is heading into year six of its Transformation plan this year the district is implementing a number of new programs including the Early Middle College program at Ottawa Hills High School. The program gives students the opportunity to attend high school for 5 years, not only earning their diploma in the process, but also graduate with an Associate’s Degree. 

“This is a win, win for our students and our parents, because it’s at no cost to the student,” Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said. “It is about a $13,000 savings for parents, and like I said students will walk away with our Associates Degree, they can either enter the work (force) or they can go onto college, or they can do both.”

The Early Middle College program at Ottawa Hills is part of a $17 million renovation at the High School. Leading the way this year is new Principal Kaushik Sarkar who says they are currently working to change the public’s perception that the school is struggling.

“Currently, enrollment is low, but once again, I do feel and believe that with all the new programs we have coming in, that will be a problem of the past,” Sarkar said.

According to the GRPS, for the first time in 20 years enrollment is up in the school district, and in the five years since Weatherall-Neal signed on as Superintendent, graduation rates are up 50 percent. On Wednesday the school district will be unveiling the site plan for Plaza Roosevelt, a new, $20 million Spanish-English dual immersion high school.

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