ECHS Holds Open House Prior to New School Year

Collage of photos from the 2023 ECHS Open House event.

WINTERVILLE—The Pitt County Schools Early College High School (ECHS) on Pitt Community College’s campus held an open house Wednesday in preparation for the new school year that began Aug. 4.

More than 200 families came out for the school’s 9th Annual Open House, which gave students and their families an opportunity to meet teachers and staff and learn important details about the 2023-24 school year.

“Our turnout for open house was the largest we have ever had,” ECHS Principal Wynn Whittington said. “We were very pleased and enjoyed seeing their smiling faces.”

With an enrollment of 330 students, ECHS features a curriculum comprised of college and high school classes focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Students can graduate in four to five years with a high school diploma from ECHS and an associate degree from PCC.

Sarah Warrick, a rising senior, says she’s “really looking forward to being more independent this year and making more connections” through ECHS as she prepares to major in music when she gets to college.

“I chose PCSECHS because I really wanted to advance my education, get more opportunities, and receive assistance with a career path,” she said.

Sarah’s father, Tim, says enrolling at ECHS was the best possible option for his daughter.

“I think PCSECHS is the greatest school ever,” he said. “They have the best faculty and staff, and it feels like an extended family. We have been through some very difficult times, and the staff have always showed up and supported us. We really appreciate that.”

Heading into his junior year, Tyler Cole wants to pursue a career in the medical field. He says he came to ECHS for a number of reasons, including smaller class sizes and the opportunity to get a two-year college degree while still in high school.

“I took classes over the summer, so I am on track to graduate with both my diploma and an associate degree in four years,” Cole said.

Among those attending Wednesday’s program were 75 new students arriving from middle schools throughout Pitt County. ECHS Student Ambassadors—a group of student leaders who applied, interviewed and were selected for participation in the program—were also on hand to assist families and guide students throughout the event.

Since opening its doors in 2015, ECHS has earned numerous performance accolades, including National Distinguished Title I School honors two years in a row. The Early College has also exceeded growth every year and been recognized as an “A” school and AVID School of Distinction.

“Relationships drive what we do,” Whittington says. “We focus on educating the whole student to include focusing on meeting their social, emotional and physical needs. Focusing on these needs removes barriers and distractions, allowing us to meet their academic needs as well.”

In addition to facility tours, open house attendees received bus information, completed paperwork and paid school fees. They also learned how ECHS allocates its Federal Title I funding on instructors, support staff, technology and other layers of student support services.

“Open house allows us to get schedules in student hands and familiarize themselves before the first day of school,” Whittington said. “We also provide them with a school supply list, technology needs and other informational materials. Connecting with families is the key to building positive relationships with them.”

After operating out of modular units behind PCC’s Ed & Joan Warren Building the first three years, ECHS students and employees moved into a brand new, 13,000-square-foot home at the start of the 2018-19 academic year. The structure features eight classrooms and a multipurpose room and offers students plenty of space to spread out and work on projects.

Throughout the academic year, ECHS students are allowed to participate in PCC clubs and organizations and various student activities on campus. Whittington said ECHS’s relationship with the college plays a role in the school’s success academically and culturally.

“Our relationship with PCC is a model for other community colleges and early colleges,” he said. “This relationship enables our students to seamlessly integrate our students into the PCC culture.”

Earlier this year, 71 ECHS students earned high school diplomas in the spring. A total of 43 earned associate degrees from PCC as well.