New CCSD, Trident partnership gives more high school kids chance to earn college credits


Carlotta Garcia-Torres, 14, is getting an opportunity few teenagers get.

“There were 300 other kids who applied to the school to get into it, and I was very excited to get the phone call," she said. ”This will help my future so it's really good for me."

Carlotta is one of 100 Charleston County freshman chosen for a new high school offering college credit. Charleston County School District's Early College High School opens Aug. 17 on Trident Tech's Palmer campus in downtown Charleston.

School administrator Vanessa Denney says students have the chance to earn up to 60 college credit hours. They can graduate high school with an associate's degree or industry certification.

Denney explained, "I think the neatest conversation was a few weeks ago. I was calling a parent and said there's a seat at Early College for your child, and the parent just started to cry. That moment you just can’t put a value on it. It's life changing for that student."

After the students 9th grade year, they'll be able to take classes with Trident Tech college students and participate in all college activities.

"They are not only our future. they are our gold,” explained Trident Tech’s Melissa Stowasser. She says grades will be added each year until it serves 9th through 12th.

"We can no longer do educational programs the way have done them for hundreds of years. We have to be innovated. We have to be on the cutting edge in order to be globally competitive, Stowasser added.

Grades and test scores were considered as Trident and Charleston County School District administrators chose which students to enroll in the program. Also, school officials worked to attract kids from families that had no college graduates.

As for Carlotta, her motivation is her mom. She says she'll be the first in her family to receive a college degree.

“College is really expensive. It will save them a lot of money definitely,” she said, smiling.