Marysville Early College High School is handling twice as many students in its second year and Principal Kathy McKinniss said all is well.

Marysville Early College High School is handling twice as many students in its second year and Principal Kathy McKinniss said all is well.

The building opened for the 2014-15 school year with 143 freshmen.

This fall, Early College High School welcomed back sophomores and 150 freshmen for a total enrollment of about 300.

"The biggest difference for us is more girls," McKinniss said. "Last year we had more boys. For the second year, the genders are the same. The young ladies did a good job saying that STEM education is important."

The new school offers students an opportunity to take high school courses at a facility that focuses on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, while earning college credit.

Career pathways are offered in health sciences, engineering and information technology.

"Our hope is that they have close to an associate's degree" upon graduation, McKinniss said. "One of our partners is Columbus State, so kids can take both high school and college courses."

High school courses are similar to those offered at Marysville High School, McKinniss said, but students take classes in their field of study as well.

A student in the health-science pathway, for example, would take a health-science and technology course as a freshman. Engineering students would take principles of engineering.

"At a comprehensive high school, kids' electives are in those pathways," she said.

Although the school now has two grade levels attending, the entire building is not yet open.

But it soon will be. Renovations on the final wing started in August. Classrooms are expected to be open when students return from winter break.

The wing will be used for the health-sciences pathway. Those students currently use labs elsewhere in the building.

"Next year we'll definitely be using it," McKinniss said.

Next fall, ECHS will welcome another class; eighth-graders visited this week to check out the school.

"Certainly there are some courses at the middle schools that I think raise awareness that there are some STEM pathways available to them," Mc-Kinniss said, adding that visits go a long way in recruiting.

"They have the opportunity to see the facilities and talk to students about the type of learning that goes on here. They can find out what type of school is important to them."

Students who choose ECHS will be a few steps ahead of others in careers such as nursing, sports medicine, engineering, computer science, network engineering and IT.

ECHS staff members evaluate courses regularly to make sure they're keeping up with the times.

"Each year we have looked at pathway offerings and course content and asked, 'Does this make sense with the learners we have? Does it lead to where we want to be?' " McKinniss said.

"We revise for information technology based on talking to local employers and what students want. We won't stray from the pathways, but we'll look at what's offered."

Adults also may be familiar with ECHS as it serves as a community center, per a commitment through the Straight A Grant from the state that funds the program.

"Columbus State offers classes here in the evenings and Otterbein University offers evening classes," McKinniss said.