What is J. P. Knapp Early College High School?
J. P. Knapp Early College (i)School was founded in 2008 as part of an initiative with the North Carolina New Schools Project and the Gates Foundation. The Early College concept is a researched-based approach providing a rigorous and challenging curriculum to all students on an honors course level. The difference in an Early College and a regular high school education is that Early College students have the opportunity to complete an Associate’s Degree (the first two years of college) while still in high school without paying college tuition.
A misconception about the Early College program is that it is only for the “cream-of-the-crop” or highest performing students. The Early College concept was not intended to be an extension of an academically gifted program. The Early College movement is based in giving the opportunity of post-secondary education to those students who are the most underrepresented on today’s college campuses. Students who are the first in their families to go to college, students from low-income households, students of color, English language learners, or those who will have very little opportunity to continue their education beyond high school are the target groups. Many of our students have experienced differing levels of exclusion from the regular educational setting or felt that they just did not fit. Some students just need the extra attention and support that an Early College atmosphere can provide in classrooms that average approximately 19 students each. Another benefit for our students is that they can choose to stay in high school for a fifth year and continue working toward their two-year college degree, again without paying tuition.
Originally, J. P. Knapp Early College (i)School was aligned with the (i)School at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, but over time we have become more regionally tied to the College of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City and have dropped our “(i)school” designation. As our primary higher education partner, the College of the Albemarle provides both online and face-to-face learning opportunities for our students. Because of the number of online courses, we are considered a “Virtual Early College” although each day we have three buses that transport our student, primarily Juniors, Seniors, and 5th years, back and forth over the twenty miles to Elizabeth City. In 2014, the College of the Albemarle completed construction on the Regional Aviation and Technical Training Center in Currituck County. Located just two miles from our campus our students begin taking courses there in the spring of 2015.
Each year we begin our recruitment process with informational meetings for parents and students at both Currituck and Moyock Middle Schools in January and February. Our applications are posted on our school website during this time and are due on March 2nd. During March, we review our applications and interview everyone who applies. Initial acceptance letters go out in early April and final decisions on wait listed candidates will be made by July 1st. There are two very important events that take place in April and May. In mid-April we have Commitment Day, the day students let us know their final decision on whether you want to accept our invitation to attend J. P. Knapp Early College. In late April, we hold our Meet & Greet Social where our new freshmen all come in to meet our staff and their new classmates.