LHS seniors add KC diplomas to end-of-year celebration

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While most high-schoolers are planning prom parties, summer vacations and preparing to be a university freshman, 36 Longview High School graduates will be picking up college diplomas.

The first group ever to graduate from the Longview ISD and Kilgore College Early College High School program graduated with associate’s degrees on Friday, May 10.

As they picked up their diplomas in Dodson Auditorium, these students became college graduates before they technically became high school graduates.

The program was launched in 2014, funded by LISD and facilitated in part by KC instructors. Students would take one extra dual-credit course per semester as freshmen, then tack on an additional course or two per semester in each grade level thereafter, taking four or five credits per semester by the time they became seniors.

Some students planned to enter nursing programs at KC, pursue a bachelor’s degree after transferring to a university or enter the workforce after graduation.

Nearly all the students might not have been able to attend college without this unique program. Many were the first in their families to attend college and most were from economically challenged backgrounds.

“LISD came to Kilgore College in December of 2014 and wanted to start an Early College High School on their high school campus. It functions as a ‘school within a school,’” said Terry Booker, KC’s dual-credit coordinator.

“Most of them took all their courses at LHS as Kilgore College instructors traveled to that campus. A few students wanted classes that were not common, and they took those on one of our campuses. There are another 25 or more seniors who will not graduate, but they will have thirty or more hours completed.”

While 36 students will claim their diplomas, many more will find themselves much closer to a degree or a workforce certification or credential after using the program. Some of those students will continue taking classes at KC as college students.

This is another advantage of the program – these students will have earned enough dual-credits to quality for the KC Connection Program, which extends the 40 percent discount KC offers on dual-credit courses to students who enroll full-time at the college after completing enough dual-credit coursework.

Booker rates the program a big success and cites cooperation between the two institutions for its efficacy.

“It has been a partnership between KC and LISD. The college provided reduced tuition and paid for the instructors, most of whom are full time, over the last four years. LISD paid the tuition and hosted the classes on their campus. LISD also provided an assistant principal to give leadership and coordination for their students. For the last two years, it has been Carla Williams.”

The graduates from LHS are Luis Aguirre, Kalyn Anderson, Celina Baeza, Rynie Barnes, Shadda Botkin, Akarrius Boyd, Mara Cooks, Deborah Cortez, Margie Davis, Kimberly Diez, Kysean Dixon, Angela Dominguez, Ghnytra Ford, Ariana Garcia, Alaiya Hawkins, Jaydyn James-Rollins, Garrett Johnson, Erin Kelly, Monica Lozano, Brycelyn Lynch, Laura Martinez, Dijon Maxie, Rachel McCarty,

Ryley Nelson, Tania Piedra, Prisila Reyes, Jackeline Rojas, Natalie Serrato, Key’yon’tae Shaw, Kristian Shumaker, Marquel Smith, Mark Thompson, Michael Traylor, Morgan Vance, Daiton Wells, Alyssa Williams.

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