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Colorado Springs high school continues odyssey with new name

January 12, 2018 Updated: January 13, 2018 at 9:00 am
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The final graduation exercises under the name Early College High School were held on May 26, 2017 at the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus. The school will now be known as Odyssey Early College and Career Options. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Now in its fifth year, Early College High School has faced an identity crisis of sorts.

The school is one of eight educational programs located at the Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus off Constitution Avenue in Colorado Springs School District 11.

But people often confused it with a different high school that has a similar name: Colorado Springs Early Colleges, a state-authorized charter school off Garden of the Gods Road.

As of Thursday, Early College High School has a new name: Odyssey Early College and Career Options, or ECCO.

D-11's seven-member Board of Education unanimously approved the switch at a meeting Wednesday night.

"This is a significant change, and a good time to do it," said D-11 spokeswoman Devra Ashby and facilitator of the district's naming committee. "The more you wait, the more alumni you create that are attached to an identity of a school, and it becomes harder."

The process started as a student-led initiative, Ashby said. Before approaching the naming committee, students and school leaders had asked staff, parents, and current and former students for ideas.

Odyssey Early College and Career Options was the favorite and the suggestion submitted to the naming committee.

Other recommendations that didn't make the grade included Ascend High School, Pikes Peak High School, Beyond Early College, Accolade High School, Blossom High School, Unity High School and Mountain Climbers High School.

"During open houses and free class periods, they had a system where people voted with stickers for the one they liked best," Ashby said.

The name, Odyssey, is symbolic of "the great adventure that high school, college and life is for students and staff," according to the renaming application. It also speaks of life being a journey filled with ups and downs, and struggles and victories, the proposal stated.

Ashby said the name fits with the school's mascot, the phoenix, which presents a vision of rising up and pushing students to a different level of achievement.

All Odyssey students graduate with some college credit they've earned from local colleges and universities, a new trend in high school education. Some students earn an associate degree or a bachelor's degree by the time they receive a high school diploma. In Colorado, college tuition is free to families while students are in high school.

The school has grown from 73 students when it opened in August 2013 to 197 this school year, according to Colorado Department of Education statistics.

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