College News

Lee Early College kicks off new year

Click to enlarge Lee Early College kicks off new year

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Rodney Schmitz (left), Lee Early College Competition Clubs advisor, and Andrew Ruiz, LEC senior, were ... (more)

Click to enlarge Lee Early College kicks off new year

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The Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center lobby fills up with Lee Early College incoming students and parents ... (more)

08.16.2012Lee Early CollegeCollege & Community

SANFORD - Excitement and anticipation filled the air as Lee Early College held its seventh annual Freshman Orientation Aug.1 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.

A total of 66 freshmen are newly enrolled at LEC, bringing total enrollment to 279. All are eager to take advantage of the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree within five years.

Lee Early College, an academically advanced, non-traditional high school, is a collaboration between Lee County Schools and Central Carolina Community College. It is operated under Lee County Schools, but located on the college's Lee County Campus. Students take both high school and college-level classes. The college education is free because LEC is a public school.

Incoming freshmen and their parents had plenty of questions for Principal Robert Biehl, staff and faculty at the orientation. One of the most important was, "How do I get to school?"

Since 2007, LEC has utilized the Edwin A. Bell Hall, located at the front of CCCC's Lee County Campus. Starting this year, LEC has its own building, Cobra Hall, located at the back of the campus. The new building boasts bigger classrooms, new tables, and SmartBoards for every teacher.

LEC alumna Hillary Akers was at the orientation, providing inspiration to the incoming class. She was a member of LEC's first graduating class, in May 2010, and is now a senior at the University of Chapel Hill at Pembroke.

"When you think you've gone as far as you can, go farther," she told the freshmen. "When you think you've pushed as hard as you can push, push harder. And when you think you've hit your limit, break it."

She noted that her experience in college classes at LEC truly prepared her for university-level coursework and that she felt comfortable in UNCP's classrooms from her first day on campus.

Scheduling was another concern for the rising freshmen and their parents, who aim to get the most out of LEC and CCCC's course offerings. The students will take all honors level classes, including Honors English II, Honors Earth and Environmental Science, and Honors World History.

All students will participate in AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and also take a credit-bearing college class that exposes them to the skills necessary for success in college courses, said Elizabeth Wiggs, LEC English instructor. Students entering with some high school courses will move into even more college classes, including Principles of Biology, paired with high school Honors Biology, and American Government, paired with Honors Civics and Economics.

"We continue to make changes to our program - like adding ACA [study skills and student success] classes to help our kids be more successful at LEC, and to make them better contenders in the competition to get into quality four-year institutions," said Principal Robert Biehl. "Between AVID, our daily Advisory program and these ACA classes, we are offering a support system second to none. None of this would be possible without the excellent collaboration and cooperation between the LEC and CCCC staff."

The quantity of homework was another topic for questions at the orientation. LEC teachers said that 1.5 to two hours of homework per night is normal. Students are expected to read 25 books per year, so reading will comprise a great deal of the time spent on homework each night.

The incoming freshmen weren't only concerned with academics. They also showed interest in the clubs offered after school. LEC's Competition Clubs, including Science Olympiad, had their trophies on display at the orientation. Beta Club, Yearbook and Student Ambassadors were there to talk with the freshmen about opportunities for extracurricular participation.

Graduates of LEC continue to pursue their educations at a number of institutions, including N.C. State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, and Campbell University. The incoming freshman class is enthusiastic about following in their footsteps.

"Every fall Central Carolina is excited to welcome our new LEC freshmen and to welcome back our returning LEC students," said Dr. Lisa Chapman, CCCC executive vice president for Instruction/chief academic officer. "The college and Lee County Schools have a strong partnership and we are pleased to be able to work together to continue to provide this educational opportunity to Lee County students."

To apply to Lee Early College, a student must be a resident of Lee County and first time, rising ninth grader. The student must submit a completed application to his/her eighth grade counselor. The application period for the 2013-14 school year opens in December. For more information, visit or