Eight Crothersville High School seniors graduated from IVY Tech on Saturday with Associate’s Degrees…more than three weeks before they receive their high school diploma on June 2.
Getting a college degree before a high school degree is not something lost on their beaming with pride parents.
Last year, Ivy Tech Community College partnered with Crothersville and Austin High Schools to offer the Ivy Tech High School Academy, a program offering early college courses for juniors and seniors.
This year is the first year that graduating seniors also had an opportunity to earn associate’s degree from Ivy Tech.
The eight Crothersville High School students who earned associate’s degrees in general studies while in high school. They are Lauren Barnes, Kaitlyn Hoevener, Caleb Minton, Chandler Nehrt, Hailey Pasley, Olivia Robinett, Jessica Schmelzle, and Olivia Smedley.
Crothersville offers students the opportunity to take 33 credit hours in dual-credit classes, according to CHS principal David Schill.
Schill said he initially had this dream when he became Crothersville’s principal and the Indiana Department of Education mandated Indiana schools to provide students with the classes allowing them to earn dual credit. Dual credit classes are classes where the curriculum combines high school and college requirements, thus adding rigor to the course.
“We thought it would be a positive achievement if students could get enough credits to get a degree,” Schill said.
Crothersville and Austin students in the program attend classes three days a week each semester, taking six classes a year.
Schill said this one is the only program that works between two districts.
“It’s been a project of firsts,” he said. “It’s worked out well.”
Tuition for the program is completely free for students. The only fees students pay are for book rental.
The program saves parents an estimated $30,000 in college costs, Schill said. Thus another reason for parents to beam with pride.
“Students who are involved in the program have the opportunity to get ahead of the (educational) game,” Schill said.
President of the Crothersville School Board Dale Schmelzle, father of Jessica Schmelzle, one of the dual credit students,said the dual credit program was rigorous but that students who stuck with it will have a better chance of success in college.
“They now have the confidence that they can successfully do college level work,” said the Schmelzle.
He said the seven Crothersville students maintained a college study program along with their high school studies and still competed in athletics, and took part in cheerleading and extracurricular activities.
All of the credits they received will transfer to a 4-year Indiana college.
“They will enter college as second semester sophomores,” said the board president.
Schill said the school plans to continue the program in the future, despite the state instituted budget cuts.
“We’re working out whatever we have to do to have it continue,” he said.
“It’s been a real pleasure to get it going. Just in the short term, we’ve seen it serve the students well and we expect it to continue to do so.”