05/23/14 — Wayne Early Middle students get diplomas

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Wayne Early Middle students get diplomas

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on May 23, 2014 1:46 PM

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Brandon Fitzgerald Yelverton, right, shakes hands with Dr. Steven Taylor, Wayne County Public Schools superintendent, as he accepts his diploma from Wayne Early Middle College High School on Thursday.

Brandi Doubt first arrived at Wayne Early Middle College High School nervous and dressed all in black.

The concept of a high school adding college courses into its curriculum while forgoing sports and other usual high school pursuits was a little scary.

Four years later, she is glad she weathered those first uneasy moments.

And as she and her fellow classmates collected their diplomas Thursday, she paused to thank those who helped her make it through those high school years.

"Thank you for being a blessing," she said to her classmates during the commencement held at The Bridge Church.

In response, her classmates cheered the young woman on, some yelling, "Go Brandi."

"Thank you for embracing me, like you are doing right now," she said. "(My mom) told me the first day that this place was, 'where you need to be,' and like everything else, she was right."

Now, having earned her diploma, Ms. Doubt can set her sights on her next step -- becoming a fashion designer.

Ms. Doubt was one of the 61 high school students who graduated from WEMCHS. The school is one-part high school and one-part college where students are encouraged to earn their associate degrees while simultaneously earning their high school diplomas.

This year, 37 of the 61 students had already received their associate degrees from Wayne Community College at a ceremony held earlier this month. The school doesn't choose a valedictorian or salutatorian and there are no defined graduation speakers. Those who wanted to share their thoughts about their time at WEMCHS were encouraged to do so on their graduation day.

After turning their tassels, the students congregated outside of The Bridge church's assembly hall where hugs were exchanged, a few tears were shed and plenty of pictures were taken by proud family members.

Michaela DeGuzman remembers her first few days as a freshman at WEMCHS as being a little nerve-wracking. Surrounded by her fellow freshmen, she wasn't sure of her decision to attend the institution. But after years together, the students bonded through the hardship.

"In one year, we became comfortable with the people around us," she said. "In four years, we made a family we never dreamed of having."

The WEMCHS program has freshmen taking high school classes in the morning and college classes in the afternoon. As their high school career continues, students typically stack their course load with more college courses than high school classes. By the time they graduate, they have an associate degree in the arts to couple with their high school diploma.

No one told the students they had to forgo the traditional high school experience. Taking on the four rigorous years was a decision they made for themselves.

"We chose WEMCHS," student Logan Taylor said during her time at the podium. "Many said I was crazy for choosing the challenge, but I'm so glad I did. I discovered I could do anything I set my mind to. My high school experience played a huge part in making me who I am today."