Published: Sep 14, 2010 1:10 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 13, 2010 8:50 PM EDT

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Imagine being half-way done with college before stepping foot outside your high school. Some students in Charlotte County are on the fast track to higher education.

From a hallway with a few classrooms, to a stand-alone facility, the kids at the Edison Collegiate High School's Charlotte Campus now have room to spread out their books and flex their mental muscles.

"We were in four small classrooms and a hallway. That was it," says Principal Diane Juneau. "Now we have nine classrooms, a study skills lab and a cafeteria that can double as all sorts of things."

Monday's ribbon cutting ceremony is just the beginning of the school expansion.

The student population is 200 and growing every year.

"We're very excited about the growth" says Charlotte County School Board Vice-Chair Andrea Messina. "The more opportunities we can afford students here, the better for all our students."

But it's not just the opportunity of a great high school education luring students to the high school.

The students won't only be leaving Edison Collegiate High School with a high school diploma, they'll get an associates degree, too.

Skipping two years of college may seem like a draw back for some, but student body president Wesley Locke says, for her, that was the key selling point of the school.

"It's not about the social aspect of school. We're here for an education and this is the best way to get a jumpstart on our future," says Locke.

The kids approve, and so will a parent's pocketbook.

"That's the main reason I came here," says sophomore Wyatt Hoffman. "Two years of college for free is a blessing."

Savings or not, the students are proud to be Edison Panthers.

"For anyone who wants a good education and wants to feel at home in the process, this is the place to be."