Early College Initiative Continues Expansive Growth

Partnership recognized by US Secretary of Education

Leeward Community College
Posted: Apr 15, 2014

Early College Students at Waipahu HS
Early College Students at Waipahu HS

The strong partnership between Waipahu High School and Leeward Community College was recognized by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan during his March 31 visit to Hawai'i. A highlight of the partnership is rapid growth and success of the Early College initiative. On Friday, April 11, Leeward Chancellor Manny Cabral was invited to take a photo with nearly 300 Early College students at Waipahu HS,  double the number of participants at this time last year.

WHS and Leeward CC Early College partnership is generating greater numbers of low income, first generation college-goers choosing Leeward Community College.

The Early College High School initiative differentiates itself from Running Start in that Early College courses are offered for free to students in more than 28 states and 240 high schools throughout the nation.  The WHS students who test into college-level courses take dual credit classes.

"The program is now testing as early as freshmen level, so there is a real probablity that in four years, Waipahu's Early College participants may be graduating with both a HS diploma and an AA degree from Leeward," states Cabral.

Under the leadership of WHS principal, Keith Hayashi, the program is coordinated by Waipahu’s Early College program director Dr. Mark Silliman and funded through a grant from McInerny Foundation. Waipahu’s Early College Program is the only such program available in Hawaii. It provides college-class experiences by allowing Waipahu students to earn college credits, on the high school campus, while still in high school. In the past two years, Waipahu students have taken college courses such English 100, Psychology 100, Speech 151, Sociology 100, Calculus 205, and Astronomy 110.