02/26/07 — Duplin students can choose to graduate early

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Duplin students can choose to graduate early

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 26, 2007 1:45 PM

Duplin County students who want to graduate from high school early now have one more option at their disposal.

Approved by the state General Assembly three years ago, this year's freshman class is the first to have the chance to graduate on a college prep track in three years.

"They have to have requested it their freshman year because it is a pretty rigorous course of study," said Dora Jernigan, county director of high school reform. "In order to graduate in three years, they have to really work hard and have all their course of study complete."

Students also have to complete their graduation project and be accepted into a four-year college, she added.

It's not the only way for students to graduate early, Mrs. Jernigan said. Others can still complete their high school studies by the end of the first semester of their senior year with permission from the local school board, but this is the first way for them to finish in three years.

Students in the program will graduate with 24 credits, as opposed to the traditional 28. The four-credit difference is because the students on the accelerated path will be taking fewer electives. They will be completing all their college admission requirements.

"This is different in that the students will finish completely within three years and have gotten all the advanced classes at an accelerated rate," Mrs. Jernigan said. "It's good because it gives kids options. It's another avenue and it helps those kids who are ready to move on and enter the university system."

This year, three Duplin County freshmen are taking advantage of the program. Others inquired, but those were the only ones who decided to make the commitment.

"It was something I wanted to do since middle school," James Kenan High School freshman Carneisha Ward, 15, said. "I think it would be a good opportunity for me to do what I want to do in life a little bit earlier."

Interested in a career in physical therapy, Miss Ward said she was a little worried about the daunting workload facing her during the next two years, but said she thinks she can handle it.

"I know if I stay focused and do everything on time, I won't have anything to worry about," she said, adding though, that she knows there are going to be some things she'll be missing out on like her senior prom.

"That's something I don't give a lot of thought to," she said. "If I thought about it, I'd be sad about not being able to do things with my senior class, but I'll be doing something that I always wanted to do and that's graduating early and going to college early."

As the program gains more visibility during the next few years, Mrs. Jernigan said she expects more students to take advantage of the opportunity.

"It's something our students and parents have been made aware of, but I think probably next year we'll have more as people become more familiar with it," she said. "It's not for us to limit student opportunities. It's up to us to give them as many options as we can.

"If you've got kids ready to move on, we don't want to keep them twiddling their thumbs. We need to let them go on."