Adult high school opens new building in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Excel Center, an adult high school, opened the doors of a new building Monday morning.

Mike Reynolds, director of the Columbia Excel Center, said it is the fourth center partnered with MERS Goodwill out of St. Louis, with others in St. Louis, Springfield and Poplar Bluff.

The Excel Centers are tuition-free high schools that help adults get their high school diplomas.

Columbia's Excel Center opened in October in a temporary building. Monday began the second term for the school, which is now in the old Columbia Daily Tribune building.

"Everyone was excited from the first day of the term to the last day, so being able to move into a brand new school is even more exciting," Reynolds said. "To see so many of our returning students come in this morning with smiles on their face makes everything worthwhile."

Reynolds said the center has two main goals for students: to get a second chance at a high school diploma and to provide students with industry-recognized credentials, such as internships.

Reynolds said the center has grown since it began, with 122 students in the first term rising to around 200 for the new term. He said a goal for the staff is to continue to see enrollment increase.

The center has accomplished a lot through it's first term, but Reynolds says they aspire for more.

"I think we can continue to expand course offerings and thereby continue to expand our enrollment," Reynolds said. "Once we continue with an increase in enrollment, ideally we'll see more partnerships form and more opportunities for our students to get industry-recognized credentials."