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Palm Beach County middle school students take high school, college classes

Posted at 12:26 PM, Mar 05, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Dual enrollment is an educational program that’s been around for a while. But triple enrollment -- middle school students taking high school and college level courses -- is almost unheard of.

However, students at Bear Lakes Middle School in West Palm Beach are currently accomplishing just that.

The school's principal, Dr. Kirk Howell, implemented the high school acceleration program when he came to the school almost nine years ago.

"The sky is the limit," said Dr. Howell. "They can be the best at anything as long as we put the right support in place and continue to push these kids. Our expectations should be higher than their fears."

16 8th graders at Bear Lakes Middle School are now eligible to enroll in college classes. One of them, Haley Howell, will start her first course at Palm Beach State College next month.

"I rather do it now and do college classes now so when I get older it pays off for me, my parents, my siblings, for everyone," said Howell.

Howell also plays soccer and has dreams of one day attending Stanford University to work toward her dream of becoming an oncologist. That day could come a lot sooner then a typical educational timeline would project.

Howell will begin high school next year as a junior. Her older sister completed the program as a Palm Beach County public school student as well. She's set to graduate from college this spring as a 19-year-old.

The program helps families save money and gives more students the chance at pursuing high education degrees.

Dr. Howell said every student who walks onto his campus has the same potential.

"On every campus we have three levels of kids. The high, the middle, and the kids that need additional support. And that doesn’t mean that that won’t be the kid that cures cancer. So my thing is that we need to king of look at everything, every possible stone unturned, and how best to continue to move these kids," said Dr. Howell.