The program started with two courses and about 10 students 14 years ago, and for the 2021-2022 academic year Xavier is a Top 10 high school for total number of students enrolled as well as most credit hours taken in the UConn Early College Experience program.
Guidance counselor Mark Lambert supervises the program and remembers those early days. He said Principal Brendan Donohue always had the vision to grow the program.
“You can see where we are now,” Lambert said. “I think Brendan and I are both big believers in the program and what it can do for the students. It has been Brendan’s vision to keep pushing us along.”
Today Xavier is No. 7 with 220 students enrolled and No. 4 with 1,710 UConn credit hours taken through the UConn Early College Experience program.
“We want to congratulate you on an extremely successful year despite all of the continuous difficulties and uncertainties, and thank you for your dedication and hard work,” said Jessica Dunn, Assistant Director of the Office of Early College Programs, in an email recognizing the school.
Xavier offers 14 UConn ECE courses, equaling a total of 45 credits. The credits not only are transferable to UConn but to more than 80 percent of colleges across the country.
“The ability to provide credits for college while students are sitting in a Xavier classroom is such an added benefit,” Lambert said. “Many of the students are walking into college as second semester freshmen. It is not only preparing them academically for college because they are taking a college class, but they also are saving a bit of money in the long run. There have been several cases where students have graduated in three years, three-and-a-half years, because of the credits they have that transfer in.”
Xavier teachers must be certified as adjunct professors at UConn to teach an ECE course. The syllabus for the course also has to be certified as appropriate for a UConn class.
Longtime Xavier teacher David Applegate, a 1998 graduate, says of his ECE Statistics class, “It is great to see the students put the effort in and get the results out of it, and to see them learn skills that are transferable to a lot of different disciplines.”
Aaron King started teaching a Modern European history course back when ECE started here and since has added a second course on Western Civilization.
“That the students are exposed to higher levels of intellectual expectations benefits them,” King said. “These are rigorous courses and help give students exposure to the expectations in college.”
It certainly grows a student’s confidence level, too.
“Another benefit is our students are proud of it, proud they have a transcript,” Lambert said. “We’re a college prep school so what better way to prepare kids for college. It helps in our mission of what we want to do here at Xavier, and we’re doing it to the max level.”