Juniors advance to graduate early


Source: RBHS Student Handbook. By Billy Beaty

Anna Kirby

Graduating from high school can be a scary, happy, a long-awaited or dreaded time. For some students, waiting for four years of high school to pass can seem to take ages with graduation day always slightly out of reach.
But for a small minority of students, putting in extra hours is worth it in order to receive their degree one year earlier and to move on to the next chapter of their lives.
Guidance secretary Lisa Jenkins said she knows of five or six juniors graduating early this year, more than past years.
Junior Siena Juhlin did not finalize her plans to graduate Friday, May 18 until December of 2017, making her a senior for only one semester.
“It was very last minute,” Juhlin said. “I’m not recognized as a senior anywhere, like in the yearbook, but I am a senior, and I’m graduating.”
Originally, Juhlin was going to graduate in spring of 2019 along with the rest of her class, but then she got involved in a studying abroad program with Rotary club. Rotary Youth
Exchange is a division of Rotary International. The exchange program allows teenagers ages 15 to 19 to travel to another country in order to interact with language, culture and people across the world.
“I could’ve gone [on] as a junior and then gone to Chile as a senior, but I decided to graduate early so I could have senior year perks and things and enjoy it,” Juhlin said.
Those perks Juhlin refers to are prom, the senior picnic, senior night and graduation, among other things. She said she is taking full advantage of these senior activities, despite just recently receiving her senior title.
Unlike Juhlin, junior Huda Ansaf has been considering early graduation since freshman year and made the decision as a sophomore.
“I felt like I was ready for college, [that] I didn’t need that extra year,” Ansaf said. “Also, my family is moving, and I didn’t want to finish my senior year at a different high school.”
By completing high school a year earlier than others in her class, Ansaf will miss out on graduating with her friends, the people she has known since middle school. But there is an upside to Ansaf’s premature leave from high school.
“I’m going to med-school, and that’s a long trek, so it will be better to graduate earlier,” Ansaf said. By starting her college education earlier than expected, Ansaf will get a head start on the many years of education needed to earn her medical degree.
RBHS counselor Betsy Jones said the most common reasons for students to graduate early are “wanting to go to college early, wanting to study abroad [and] life circumstance that makes full time school challenging with working too.”
Being able to accomplish these goals is a part of the beneficial side of graduating early, but she said the negative side includes “missing out on the senior experience with students you have been with for a long time, missing out on being a kid as long as possible.”
Students graduating early must meet the same requirements of other graduating seniors. This means they must have all of the credits required to receive their diploma. This is where the added stress can come in.
[quote]“Typically students are advanced in math so they easily get to fourth level by junior year and take an additional English credit,” Jones said. “This can be accomplished by taking it over the summer and/or during the school day.”[/quote] But students cannot take more than eight courses at a time, Jones said. Including the credits that Juhlin and Ansaf will receive this year, both girls already had the rest of their required courses completed.
Ansaf, who knew she was graduating before her junior year began, took three online courses during the summer in order to fulfill her necessary graduation requirements.
“I did summer school and a bunch of extra zero-hour classes, so I have a whole ‘nother year of credits on belt,” Juhlin said.
But with the school year quickly coming to an end, there is still work to be done for Juhlin.
“The ACT—I still have yet to take it, and that sucks. And I have to get my GPA up,” Juhlin said. “But it’s okay. I’ll figure it out. The lack of time is just the hardest part.”