GREENSBORO - Students at one of the country's top rated high schools went back to class, Friday. These high achievers are following in the footsteps of hundreds before them in The Early College at Guilford's accelerated program.
It's still summer for most high school students, but it was back to the books for 200 students on the fast track at The Early College at Guilford.
"I wanted to have the opportunity to take advanced courses throughout high school," said Danielle Du Preec. "We can finish a lot of our high school courses in the first two years and then we can start taking college classes in the last two years."
They're the best of the best in a high-ranking high school to match. Publications ranked the school 21st in the nation, 14th in the South and No. 1 in North Carolina.
"We have students taking honors and AP level courses so they're getting some experience with those college level courses in the 9th and 10th grade," said Principal Bobby Hayes. "When you have that combination you will see those rankings that we have from The Washington Post, Newsweek and The Daily Beast."
Students came looking for a challenge.
"I feel like the more challenging something is it takes up more time and it actually like helps you learn more," said Rachel Dou.
"The real world isn't going to be as easy as something else like a different program I could take at a different school," said Yishak Bililign. "I like the challenge. It's really setting me up for the real world.
Guilford County Schools and Guilford College established the The Early College in 2002. Returning students said the school had sharpened their focus.
"I realized I can't listen to music. I have to stay at my desk. It's hard," said katherine Quinn. "I can't have any distractions at all. I even made up my own room in the attic so I could study."
While the mission of The Early College at Guilford centers on a student's academic career, Hayes said it also helps lay the foundation for the years beyond.
"We're preparing students for the future and to be successful in their careers and in life," she said.