By Denise Dick
Alviana Collier, Victoria Graham and Tyree Tarver spent the first four weeks of their summer vacation back in the classroom.
The three are among the roughly 60 incoming freshmen to Youngstown Early College and spent the first part of their summer break in YEC’s Summer Bridge program.
It’s a transitional school program where students learn what to expect, as well as some math and English concepts they’ll need for next year.
Marc Ellis, academic coordinator, said it’s an enrichment program to prepare students for next school year, which begins Aug. 6.
YEC students earn college credit while still in high school.
Dean Michele Dotson said the school operates on the small-school concept so YEC tries to limit incoming classes to 60 to 65 students.
Ninth- and 10th-graders spent the school day in Fedor Hall at Youngstown State University, taking the bulk of their high-school classes during 90-minute blocks.
In their junior year, they’re out on the YSU campus taking classes alongside traditional college students. The only class they take in Fedor Hall is Spanish.
They can earn credit through either YSU or Eastern Gateway Community College and have the opportunity to earn an associate degree upon high school graduation — without charge to the students.
That’s one of the things that so appealed to Alviana, Victoria and Tyree about the school.
“I could earn a bachelor’s degree by the time I’m 20,” said Tyree, 13, who wants to study business.
He and Alviana, 14, were students at Rayen Early College Middle School last year while Victoria, 13, attended Youngstown Christian School.
All three students said they were accepted at other schools for next year, including private schools, but opted to take advantage of what YEC has to offer instead.
“I thought it would be cool to get an associate degree by the time I graduate high school,” said Victoria who hopes to one day write fiction geared at teens.
Alviana, who plans to pursue a business career, looks forward to the challenges she’ll face in the accelerated program.
“I like the rush,” she said. “I like to learn fast so I can be ready for the real world.”
In a classroom Tuesday, the last day of the summer bridge, students sat in Ellis’sclassroom, learning about bullying, what causes it and how to address it.
“You are some of Youngs-town’s best,” Ellis told the students. “We want you to set a positive example.”
Other topics covered during the four-week program were emotional intelligence, time management and financial literacy.
All but six of the incoming freshmen this fall are from Youngstown City Schools, but the school is open to students from outside of the city district as well.
To be eligible, students must score at least a proficient level on the Ohio Achievement Assessment, secure recommendations and complete interviews.