Marissa Brundige

The Eugene School District’s fifth and newest high school, Early College and Career Options (ECCO) has just begun its second year at Lane’s main campus in Building 10. The school serves its current capacity of approximately 300 students seeking a more career-oriented environment than is found in a traditional high school setting.

The Building 10 location features academic classrooms on the top floor, such as rooms for math, writing and computer science.  The lower level holds most of the career/technical areas, with one room containing a 3D printer that can replicate small plastic objects.

The advantages of relocating to Lane’s main campus are considered to be far-reaching.

“I hear from students all the time that they appreciate being in an adult environment because they’re making adult choices,” ECCO Principal Brad New said. “They’re making choices about what they want their life to be like at 25.”

Students can choose from any of Lane’s technical or academic programs, and being situated in this environment can connect them with various resources and as well other students. “The power of being in this more adult environment that looks to their future allows them to think more about their future and where they are going,” Deron Fort, director of High School Connections at LCC said.

Choosing a career after graduating high school can be an overwhelming task, but ECCO provides support in the form of advisors, surveys, and a 12-week introductory period to explore career options.

“Our students who are interested more in the helping professions like health services, they go over and they find out about it before they’re making their choices and say ‘Oh, I can’t see myself doing that,’” New said.

Apart from providing students with a regular diploma, ECCO gives students practical experience in the form of a National Career Readiness Certificate, which they can show to potential employers.

ECCO motivates students to learn by providing them with an individualized plan for their future.

“Another advantage of ECCO is students can come in, can enter ECCO at different times, and they all progress at their own rate,” Fort said. Students commented that they appreciate the fact that attending ECCO does not take a huge chunk out of the day, so they still have time to work.

Staff have various goals for both their students and for the future of the program. New stated that one of the goals is to prepare each student academically for college by making sure they place into 100-level classes before starting college classes. The school is working toward forging relationships with local tech industries and the computer science department at LCC and UO.

After completing the initial trial year, Principal New reports that the school is meeting expectations, and the staff is very pleased with the new location.