They attended two graduation ceremonies: one for their high school diplomas and another for their associate’s degrees a day later.
After taking classes at both East St. Louis Senior High and Southwestern Illinois College, four students — Kayla Lee, Nicquayleeonntea Moore, Charmalya Smith and Andrial Weir — will begin college as juniors in the fall.
East St. Louis District 189 has partnered with SWIC since 2015, allowing some high school students to enroll in college courses at the same time they complete their high school diplomas, according to a news release. Kayla, Nicquayleeonntea, Charmalya and Andrial are East St. Louis’ first graduates of the SWIC program, which is called Running Start.
Another high school graduate, Leondra Harris, completed a year toward her associate’s degree through the program.
East St. Louis Senior High was one of 14 public high schools to participate in the Running Start program in the 2016-17 school year, according to SWIC’s website.
To be eligible, students had to meet certain criteria, like maintaining a minimum grade point average. For more information about the Running Start program, visit swic.edu/running-start.
The news release states that District 189 anticipates student participation will grow. Sixteen juniors are expected to begin working toward their dual diplomas, according to Teresa Williams, director of college and career readiness for the district.
Those students will also be involved in a federally-funded college preparation program called Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, the release states.