EARLY CO., GA (WALB) - Schools across the country constantly focus on students who are struggling.
One south Georgia school system is also making sure they don't forget about challenging their brightest.
One hundred and ninety eight freshman students walk the halls each day at Early County High School, taking courses from English to math.
The end goal in four years is a high school diploma
But 18 freshmen are on a bit of a different track.
"The whole design of it is for kids to be able to go through high school and get a year of college in by the time we graduate our senior year," said freshman Jared Hawkins.
It's part of the scholars program adapted from a program at Thomasville High School.
"We think it's a good way to motive our highly motivated upper end students that make good grades and don't mind doing a little extra work," said assistant principal at Early County High School Jay Winkler.
He said as schools work to help struggling students, it is easy to forget about the others.
"We neglected these kids for many years and now we are trying to go back and get them," said Winkler.
Scholars Academy students went through a rigorous application process in 8th grade.
Administrators looked at their Georgia milestone scores, 7th grade transcripts, three samples of their work, a graded writing assessment and two teacher recommendations for each student.
Jared Hawkins is one of those students who was selected to be a part of the program this year.
"It is challenging but that's the best part about it. The whole design was to be a challenge," said Hawkins.
During their freshman year, they start off in advanced and AP level courses.
"The biology is a little bit tougher because most 9th graders just take physical science," said freshman Alex Warr.
During the year they must also do 20 hours of community service.
"What we are trying to develop through this program is leaders," said Winkler. "We are trying to develop kids that want to be involved in the community."
A step up in difficulty, but enrolled students said they are up for the challenge.
"My favorite part is getting a little bit more of a challenge and seeing how well I can do on some harder stuff," said Warr.
Students must maintain an 80 average or above to remain in the program.
If they drop below that they will be put on probation.
If they are below a 70 at the end of the year, they will be removed from the program.
As far as behavior, if they have three discipline referrals, they will be removed.