Double-dipping: Whale Branch grads also earn college degrees

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From staff reports

Thirteen Whale Branch Early College High School seniors picked high school diplomas on Thursday having already earned two years of college course credits.

The students took advantage of a partnership with the Technical College of the Lowcountry that allows Whale Branch students to take college courses – and earn two-year associate’s degrees – while still in high school at no cost to themselves or their parents.

The TCL degree represents a two-year head-start as the students work toward earning a Bachelor’s degree or entering the workforce.

Four Whale Branch seniors actually earned “double” TCL associate’s degrees in both Arts and Science. They are Karamel Briant, Lawren Caldwell, Gajmere McLemore, and Clarence Stephens.

Three seniors earned associate’s degrees in Arts. They are TyReisha Blue, Michael Hunter, and Karissa Scholten.

Two seniors earned associate’s degrees in Science. They are Jameah Moore and Jamyah Moore.

Twelve other seniors will graduate from Whale Branch with college certificates for completing significant college-level coursework at TCL: Kayzon Harrison, De’Arius Hazel, Nijah Henry, Jeremiah Jackson, Jasmine Jenkins, Anthony Johnson, Ashanti Kelley, Xavier Pierce, Guadalupe Ramirez-Vazquez, Chyla Simmons, Alaysha Smalls, and Nia Smith.

Two seniors will complete their last course in the Building Construction Technician Certificate Program during the summer term at TCL: Demesvar Delva and JacQuez Frazier.

The joint WBECHS-TCL initiative is completing its ninth year. While any district student can take college-level courses at TCL, Whale Branch’s instructional program is built around its TCL partnership.

Twenty-Eight percent of this year’s graduates completed college classes and earned college credits.

“The early college program at Whale Branch continues to produce students with outstanding academic records,” Superintendent Frank Rodriguez said in a release. “By giving students the ability to earn two-year college degrees while still in high school – and at no additional cost – they get a big head-start. They can take their two-year degrees and begin their careers, or they can get four-year degrees in just two years with all of the financial savings that represents for their families.”

Shawna Wright, who graduated from Whale Branch in 2017 with three college certificates from TCL, went on to graduate from Winthrop University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, and is now a student in the Advanced Standing Master of Social Work Degree Program at Winthrop University and will graduate in May 2021.

Jhonatan Diaz, who graduated from Whale Branch in 2018 with dual associate’s degree, went on to graduate from the University of South Carolina in 2020 with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Public Health.

College courses are offered on site at Whale Branch, and students (as early as Grade 9 if they qualify) have the option of taking additional courses at the TCL campus. Among some of the most popular college courses are Probability and Statistics, College Algebra, Western Civilization 

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