Cole Bristow will tell you that he lives in a small town in a rural area. His school is small, and the band he plays for is “proportionately” small as well. This becomes clear on Friday nights at the football field at Essex High School, when the band is performing, and the flute solo can be heard very clearly. That is because there are only two flutists in the band, one of them is named Cole Bristow.
While Cole and his family enjoy their life on the Middle Peninsula, living in the “country” has not affected his educational options, thanks to Essex High School’s partnership with Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (CBGS) and Rappahannock Community College.
Since his sophomore year, Cole travels to the RCC Warsaw Campus in the mornings to attend CBGS classes. These are categorized as “dual enrollment courses,” which means that Cole will be earning credit toward an associate degree, and they will be transferrable to the next level, at the four-year school of his choice.
Cole is excited about working on his college credits while in high school. He says that thanks to this opportunity, he will be able to enter a four-year university as a junior, and excel to a masters degree more quickly.
“Currently I’m one credit away from being able to get my associates,” says Cole. “I am one PE credit away. I’m on track.”
In this, his senior year, Cole is taking physics, calculus and marine and environmental science, which, he says, is essentially oceanography. These classes appeal to him, and his career aspirations of becoming a meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study hurricanes and how to better track and image them.
“I like science and math,” says Cole. “I want to research energy and maybe find new renewable energy sources, besides the ones we currently have.”
The experience for Cole and CBGS at RCC has been very positive.
“I like the curriculum here,” he says. “High school is okay, and all, but the curriculum here is so much more challenging and engaging. If you put in the work into it, it’s extremely rewarding. Also, it’s really fun as well, if you enjoy learning.”
His immediate next step after graduation next spring are still a bit of a mystery, and Cole will not say where he wants to transfer his credits to. In fact, he has been hedging his bets.
“Maybe U.Va. but I am not sure,” he says. “I have over 30 college t-shirts from many different schools.”
For the next few months anyhow, Cole is balancing his days as an Essex High School, CBGS, and RCC student, homework doer, video game player, Netflix watcher, son, brother and one of just two flutists for the Trojans’ marching band.
“You might hear me at the games,” he laughs.