Whale Branch seniors earn two-year college degrees along with their high school diplomas

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Most students wait until after their high school graduation to focus on college, but 14 Whale Branch Early College High School seniors picked up their high school diplomas on Wednesday, June 6, 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.

Eleven Whale Branch seniors actually earned double TCL associate’s degrees in both Arts and Science. They are Christiana Badger, Jasiah Ballenger, Xzavia Bryan, Adaiya Byas, Jhonatan Diaz, Charles-Michael Garner, Sydney Lucas, Kyra Owens, Nickayla Riley, Rebecca Roell, and Gabrielle White.  

Ballenger also won the Young Achiever Award and was selected to be the first high school student to deliver the student address at TCL’s commencement ceremonies on May 11.

Whale Branch Early College High School graduated 100 seniors during its 2018 commencement exercises on Wednesday, June 6, at the school’s Earl Campbell Athletic Complex in Seabrook.

This year, for the first time in school history, a Whale Branch junior — Allie Rodgers — also earned double associate’s degrees. Two seniors – Joy Green and Desmonies White – earned associate’s degrees in Arts.

Gajmere McLemore, 16, plays the National Anthem on his violin during Whale Branch Early College High School’s 2018 commencement exercises on Wednesday, June 6.

Eight other seniors graduated from Whale Branch with college certificates for completing significant college-level coursework at TCL: Kyla Allen, Robert Alston, Elexcia Brown, Xzavier Bryan, Richard Campbell, Anthony McVay, Nya Simmons, and Taevondru White.

The joint WBECHS-TCL initiative is completing its seventh year.  While any district student can take college-level courses at TCL, Whale Branch’s instructional program is built around its TCL partnership.  Twenty-one percent of this year’s graduates completed college classes and earned college credits.

“Year in and year out, Whale Branch’s early college program is a winner for students and their parents,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Earning a four-year college degree in just two years means paying for only two years of tuition. That’s hard to beat.”

College courses are offered on site at Whale Branch, and students 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 and English Composition I.

Photo at top: Graduating seniors at Whale Branch Early college High School use the top of their caps to send various messages of strength and determination. Photos by Bob Sofaly.

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