Districts have been running 'early college' programs for years where students can earn college credits before leaving high school. Now, Littleton wants to try that same idea with eighth graders.

"An extra year of high school early lets you take care of so many things that sometimes gets in the way for older students," Dr. Amy Oakes, Littleton High School principal, said.

She and her staff developed an Early High School program for next year. Current seventh graders are asked to apply to attend Littleton High School full-time as eighth-grade students to get ahead on high school courses. While they would on the Littleton High School campus full time, they would still technically be counted as students their home middle schools.

"Looking back on who I was as a student, I think it's a program I would've been interested in," Gretchen Stulock said.

Stulock graduated from Littleton High School, Now, she is a language arts teacher who mostly deals with freshman students.

"Having that rigor and being able to participate in high school things for five years would be a really wonderful opportunity for a lot of students," Stulock said.

The district states that the purpose of the program is not to have students graduate early, but to have students graduate on time with an accelerated string of classes completed.

"We see students sometimes who don't have enough room in their schedules eleventh and twelfth grade to do what they really want," Oakes said.

Littleton Public Schools has published this on its website:

  • More and more eighth grade students and families are requesting more and more acceleration, often beyond what traditional middle school programs are able to offer.
  • In addition to accelerated core classes, Littleton High School has an enormous amount to offer, and starting one year early is a great way to take advantage of those offerings.
  • While many students are not emotionally or socially ready for high school one year early, some are, and those students who are truly academically and socially ready for high school should not be held back.

Oakes is not worried about the age difference between seniors and the youngest students on campus. She does anticipate any unusual problems with dating or bullying.

"Our eighth graders will be in passing periods and in classes with upperclassmen," Oakes said. "If an 18-year-old wants to date a 13-year-old, I will tell you, we will probably get on the phone to those parents and say this is not a good idea."

The eighth graders will be restricted to a closed campus during lunch. She says this program will be for students who believe they are ready for a high school experience.

"You have to have some confidence, but you don't have to be a straight-A student for this to work," Oakes said. "We don't expect that this is going to be a fit for every single student."

Stulock says students seeking vocational careers like auto mechanics or health sciences can take advantage of starting high school one year earlier.

"I think the earlier that our students can get into those opportunities, the better off they'll be and they'll have a better sense of who they want to be and where they want to go at a younger age."

Littleton will start will holding informational meetings on the Early High School program on October 25. If you want more information, click here: http://littletonpublicschools.net/schools/littleton-high-school/about-program.