Las Cruces Public Schools breaks ground on unique new school

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Education officials say high school students in Las Cruces are setting standards for the nation.

Now school districts across New Mexico want to copy that success.

In 2010 the Arrowhead Park Early College High School became the first of its kind in the state.

Students there work hands on. Each of them is focused on a major in STEM fields, or science, technology, engineering and math.

"The teachers are more like mentors here. You see them, you can confide in them if you have an issue educational or personal," said Karelly Marin, a student at Arrowhead Park.

Marin is a junior and well on her way to getting her associate's degree.

By the time she and her classmates graduate, they'll have high school diplomas and associate's degrees.

Since the school opened, not a single student has dropped out.

"We're counting on them for a 100 percent graduation rate. Those are remarkable results. We don't see them anywhere across the nation," said Hanna Skandera, secretary of education designee.

On Wednesday, Gov. Susana Martinez joined various officials to break ground on the city's second early college high school.

The new school will focus on health and medical majors.

The success at Arrowhead Park has school districts across the state looking to Las Cruces for the lead.

"They set a high bar, and it was the business community in particular that said, 'no more excuses. We're going to work with you to deliver something in our city in Las Cruces that really creates the change for our kids and our workforce,'" Skandera told ABC-7.

Martinez is making it a focus to develop more early college high schools in the state.

"From rural areas as well as urban areas. They have two-year institutions in every corner of the state. High schools are everywhere. So it's an opportunity to say how do we do this and what will it cost us?" she said.

Officials said Albuquerque is already working on plans to build its first early college high school.

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