ORCA is an early college academy for high school students, who can earn up to two years of college credit while completing their high school education. Most students graduate with an associate’s degree in addition to a high school diploma.
The program is the only early college academy of its kind in the country. ORCA uses the local marine environment as the unifying theme for all academic disciplines. Using an innovative, project-based approach in a small "learning community" environment, students enjoy the challenge of designing and implementing their own learning experiences under the guidance of talented college faculty. While marine science provides the focus for interdisciplinary projects, students receive a rich education in all of the core subjects, with outstanding faculty members working with the students for two years.
By using the framework of the Running Start program and the resources of Everett Community College, students earn 90 credits over two academic years tuition free.
Learn about the beachfront property donation
ORCA is now located in a state of the art facility on the Everett Waterfront at the Port of Everett’s Waterfront Center. With two generous grants from the National Science Foundation, ORCA was able to build an oceanographic research lab for students and a dedicated 34' research vessel.
The lab is complete with a 120 gallon seawater aquarium, fume hood, and fully equipped student islands, the lab was designed for collaborative and independent research. The custom designed research vessel includes a bow door for equipment deployment and potential beach landings.
Adjoining the lab are now five instructional classrooms, a common room, lunchroom and faculty offices. The core vision of ORCA resonates in the new space. Students grow as active, responsible, inquisitive learners by collaborating with other students and faculty, conducting scientific research of their own design and applying critical thinking skills from all academic disciplines. The proximity to the water is ideal for students, enabling opportunities for daily monitoring and independent research projects. The facility complements the State of Possession Sound research at ORCA, facilitating student development of a sense of place and understanding of the complexities of the marine ecosystem. Ongoing research includes two sensors deployed in the river at in Mukilteo. These sensors are available online and update every 30 minutes. Click on the green dot for location (Everett Marina and Mt.Baker Terminal) and then click on the parameter to view a weekly graph.
Apply by May 1 for the Fall 2020 School Year
ORCA admits students once a year. The next admission review of prospective applicants will begin in May 2020. The annual deadline to apply is May 1 (or the Monday following if the 1st occurs on a weekend). Students are notified of admission status on May 15.
Recent program expansion added new faculty and two new classrooms to accommodate more students, which will allow ORCA to admit up to 60 students annually.
The Annual Possession Sound Student Showcase and Talks Event is Thursday, June 13 at 5pm
2019 Program Information sessions have concluded, but join us in 2020
Thursday, January 23 at 6pm
Thursday, March 5 at 6pm
Thursday, April 16 at 6pm
Learn more about ORCA at program information sessions. Visitors and prospective students can see student work, meet faculty members, learn about the program and see the facility, including the oceanography research lab and 120-gallon seawater tank. ORCA is located at 1205 Craftsman Way, Suite 203, in Everett.
What Students Say
"I began ORCA seeking its smaller learning community environment and doing college work with other high school students who have similar interests and goals. I continued ORCA because of its amazing faculty, challenging coursework, preparation for my future, and the opportunity that it provides to maximize my ability to grow as a learner. I not only gained experience in science and writing to prepare me for medical school, but I also learned to appreciate the humanities which helped me grow as a conceptual thinker and person." Tajanna Stinn, ORCA graduate 2009. Seattle Pacific University Graduate 2011. King's College London Master of Science in Immunology 2014.