The Vail Early College program is making it’s mark on the state after winning the highly prestigious Golden Bell Award for 2023.

Students in the program attend classes at Pima Community College’s East Campus, 8181 E. Irvington Rd. and met with some of the students who are in the program.

This program helps students navigate high school while also earning college credits.

“So, the Vail Early College is a concurrent enrollment program that we have in the Vail School District in partnership with Pima Community College, where our students have decided they’re ready to dive into college their senior year,” Vail Early College Program Coordinator Raylee May said. “And instead of spending their senior year at their high school, they’re actually coming to Pima East Campus taking all of their classes.”

Students even are taught about money and options to pay for college.

“Patti and I and my students put in a lot of hard work over the last six years, and it’s really nice to finally be recognized for that,” May expressed.

Students say they enjoy participating in high school events, but also like the huge college savings.

“My plan initially was to go to community college for two years and then transfer to the U [of] A. And so having this…has really saved a lot of money for me,” Olivia Rasco, an early college student shared.

Besides saving money, students say they like learning at a college campus.

“It’s a change of scenery, different campus and the fact that most of the kids want to be here,” early college student Manga Eselle told KGUN 9.

Registration opens on Friday, Dec. 1. For more information on the program, please explore the college’s website.