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      Monte Alto High becomes early college high school

      Monte Alto High School is college bound.

      The Texas Education Agency has named Monte Alto ISD the state's newest district to be become an early college high school.

      The designation will provide 9th through 12th grade students the opportunity to rake dual enrollment courses for up to 60 college credits, all free to students.

      Superintendent Olivia Almanza-Pena says it will give students a distinct advantage.

      "It TMs like winning the lottery because every child in this community attending high school will have that opportunity, Almanza-Pena said. It will be of no cost to the parents in textbooks or tuition. The district will pay for that."

      Some juniors and seniors are already taking dual enrollment courses and say it's preparing them for the rigor of college.

      "I don't have to be shocked on the amount of homework they give you because I already know how it is, Senior Ashley Reyes said.

      "It's going to save us a lot of money from taking our basic courses, Senior Jorge Guajardo said.

      Monte Alto principal Sabrina Franco says she hopes to see at least half of her students receiving an associate degree by the time they graduate high school.

      "College is available to them and the courses are not difficult, they are just challenging. If they really take advantage they will be able to understand that college is a reach away, Franco said.

      A small community, with just over 230 high students, Franco says she hopes it will show students going to college is within their reach.

      "We have extremely intelligent students that will shine because they will be able to prove that in the university courses they will be taking, Franco said.Freshmen and sophomores can begin enrolling in college level courses in the fall 2014 semester.