Joining State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (center) are four students from Bard Early College High School (from left: Daphney Sanchez, Aishah Scott, Dwight Hodgson, and Lenina Mortimer). Behind them is Martha Olson, Dean of Administration.

Students taking part in new early college high school programs got a glimpse of their future yesterday at Long Island University’s Kumbel Theater and liked what they saw.

Staring back up at them were four success stories who graduated from one of the city’s first early college schools, Bard High School Early College in Manhattan: an admissions coordinator, a doctoral candidate in political science, a bioengineering student, and a multimedia producer.

“It’s one of those things that doesn’t make sense to you right now and that’s fine,” said Dwight Hodgson, who started at BHSEC when it opened in 2001. He is now back at his high school as an admission coordinator. “But there’s going to come a time very shortly where you’re going to sit back and say, ‘Wow, that was a life-changing experience.’”

Hodgson was speaking to new students in four early college programs crafted in BHSEC’s mold as part of the Smart Scholars Early College High School program, a state initiative to bolster partnerships between high schools and colleges.

Bard and City Polytechnic High School of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology, which has a relationship with New York City College of Technology, became the city’s first Smart Scholars schools in 2010 and this year they were joined by three other schools: Boys and Girls High School (with L.I.U.), Medgar Evers College Preparatory School (with Medgar Evers College), and Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, (with NYC College of Technology).

Each school is getting more than $400,000 from the state and the Gates Foundation, which provided the original Smart Scholars grant in 2009. The Smart Scholars initiative aims to bring the early college model, in which students take college courses while they’re still enrolled in high school, to low-income and minority students.

Yesterday, elected officials, members of the Board of Regents, and State Education Commissioner John King attended a celebration at Kumbel Theater to recognize the new additions to the Smart Scholars portfolio. With the additions, there are now 16 New York City schools offering an early college model.

At the event, speakers continually told current students to take advantage of the opportunity given to them.

“I don’t completely understand it right now,” said Aeon Williams, a Poly Tech student. “But I’m sure I’ll be grateful and appreciate what I did for myself.”

After the event, current students were invited down to speak with elected officials and alumni of the early college high school programs.