New high school to accept applications in March

Joshua Kellogg
San Juan College High School Principal Don Lorett, left, and San Juan College High School liaison Natalie Stark introduce the school's new logo Feb. 16 at San Juan College's Quality Center for Business in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – The first early-college high school in San Juan County will start accepting applications for students next month.

Since the school will be accepting students who are now in eighth grade in its first class, the staff at San Juan College High School has been visiting middle schools across the county in anticipation of opening the application process for the month of March, Principal Don Lorett said.

The Early College High School Planning Committee — which is comprised of representatives of the Aztec, Bloomfield, Central Consolidated and Farmington school districts and San Juan College — has been working to develop a new high school where students can earn their high school diploma and two years of college credit in four years.

The new high school is scheduled to open in August for the 2016-2017 school year on the San Juan College main campus. There are 60 spots that students can apply for.

Laurie Jordan, left, San Juan College High School's program administrative assistant, and school councilor Dee Torrez talk about the new San Juan College High School Wednesday at San Juan College's Quality Center for Business in Farmington.

According to Natalie Stark, college liaison for the high school, all students from across San Juan County can apply, including private and home-school students. The early college high school will be operated by the Farmington Municipal School District.

“We’re all very passionate about giving kids the opportunity to advance their education and their career pathways,” Stark said.

Stark and Lorett said they want parents and students to understand the expectations and commitment required to earn a high school diploma, along with 60 hours of college course work in four years.

“The application is really to help identify that (the school) is a right fit for a student,” Lorett said. “That the student understands that work it’s going to take, that they are ready to make the commitment.”

The schedule for first-year students will consist of four high school courses in math, science, English and social studies, followed by a college course. Lorett said the first college course the students will take is San Juan College’s student success class, which teaches students about self-awareness and personal responsibility to help them achieve success in college.

Stark said as students advance to their second and third years, the number of high school courses will decrease, and the number of college courses will increase until they are full-time college students.

Lorett said San Juan College High School will not offer sports or performing arts programs, and students cannot participate in those programs at another high school.

“If a student has a real desire to be a wrestler, soccer player or (play) volleyball, they need to stay on the regular (education) pathway," Lorett said. "That’s the best fit for them."

Students will have access to the college’s Health and Human Performance Center and can participate in college activities, clubs and organizations, including the Native American Center and tutoring in the Student Success Center.

Lorett said bus transportation will be provided for all students, including students in the Central Consolidated district who attend schools in Kirtland, Shiprock and Newcomb.

Of the 60 spots in the inaugural class of students, 30 spots are for Farmington students, with 10 spots set aside for Aztec, Bloomfield and Central Consolidated students, Lorett said.

San Juan College High School councilor Dee Torrez, front, discusses the new school Wednesday at San Juan College's Quality Center for Business in Farmington.

If more students apply than there are spots available for from any district, the school will institute a lottery system to randomly select the students, according to Lorett.

After the application process ends on March 31, the staff will contact parents to set up up family interviews in April. Families will be notified in May if their student is selected.

Lorett said the application is posted on the high school’s website at

The school staff will host informational meetings at 6 p.m. on March 3 and March 29 in the 9000 room of the college’s Henderson Fine Arts Building. The staff also is scheduling additional presentations at area middle schools through the end of March.

The San Juan College Foundation is helping the high school seek private-sector funding for facility renovations and ongoing support in the future, foundation President Gayle Dean said.

According to Lorett, the school is trying to raise an initial amount of $150,000 to help renovate nearly 8,000 square feet of space on first floor of the Learning Commons building for the school. The renovations would include four new classrooms, and office space for teachers and staff.

Lorett said the $349,000 grant the school received from the New Mexico Public Education Department to develop the school covers operations cost and does not cover capital projects.

Businesses interested in contributing to the school can contact the college’s foundation at 505-566-3204.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.