BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- A school district in Columbia County is working hard to set their students up for success by giving them a chance to get a degree along with their diploma.
Construction crews were bustling about at Bloomsburg Area High School on Tuesday. The athletic complex is in the process of getting upgrades, but the big focus is a new enhanced learning center between the high school and middle school.
"I'm really excited!" said senior Victoria Farrare. "I think it's going to be really nice. I think it's a really cool project, and a lot of renovations have been done around the school that look really good, so I'm excited to see how it's going to turn out."
The new learning center will facilitate an academic program that the school district introduced last year. It allows students from eighth grade on up to take college courses while they pursue a high school diploma.
"Being able to see the kids prepare for their future and take opportunities that will help them later in life, I think that will make them want to take part in the opportunity," said junior Nate Pegg.
The Bloomsburg Area School District partnered with Luzerne County Community College last year. They created a program that mixes online college courses with regular high school classes so students can earn up to an associate degree by the time they graduate.
Perhaps the biggest perk of this program is if a student gets an A or a B in the class, the school district will pay for it.
"I had a lot of time in my schedule, and I figured that if I fit as many as I could then I could potentially even save a whole year off college and that is a lot of money I get to save and a lot less months I have to pay for my student loans," said senior Meredith Hankins.
About 380 students are already taking advantage of the program, including freshman Jacob Evans.
"I really see myself as an example for the freshman class to be the successor for us and lead by example," Evans said.
The enhanced learning center is expected to be finished by the time students return from Christmas break.