Challenger Early College High Schools opened its doors in 2005. The school is an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the NC General Assembly. Early colleges are designed to spark economic development in their county by graduating seniors with high school diplomas and career and college-readiness degrees. We serve 400 students from Alexander and Catawba Counties in partnership with the four school districts, CVCC, NC New Schools, and the NC Department of Public Instruction.
The early college supports problem-based and investigative learning while promising each student exposure to life-ready skills, infusion of the Habits of Mind and 21st Century Skills, adherence to the early college model, access to the Future Ready Core Diploma with the required university admissions courses, and access to earning an associate's degree. The school is the only early college in the state that offers a comprehensive performing arts program and interscholastic athletics program.
In terms of economic impact, the school has created more than 100 additional local jobs, due to higher graduation rates and greater earning potential for our graduates that earn Associate's Degrees. Our graduates have contributed so far in excess of a net half-million dollars to local government revenue, an outstanding return on investment, with our total 419 graduates in our ten years according to the Regional Economic Analysis Laboratory at Clemson University.
For over 10 years running, the Firebirds top the state and county in academics, attendance, and graduation rate. Designed around research, the school follows the national early college model offering students a personalized environment, powerful teaching and learning in classrooms, and a pervasive ready-for-college culture that creates pathways and opportunities for life in the 21st Century.