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Select Rockwood students earn diploma and associate degrees at high school graduation

By: Bonnie Krueger

Twenty-four Rockwood high school students are planning to graduate with associate degrees already under their belts. They will have two years’ worth of college credits completed at no cost to their families.

They are part of the Early College Partnership, a new program that kicked off this year. Thirty Rockwood students [24 juniors and six seniors] were selected to participate in this partnership between St. Louis Community College in Wildwood and the Rockwood School District.

Coordinator K-12 School Counseling Todd Minichiello, who heads the program, said, “They’ve been responsible and mature. They’re having a fantastic experience and enjoying education in a non-traditional way. It’s great, exciting and new. I was worried they were going to miss socializing at their high schools and fit in here at college right away, but it has been seamless. They really jumped in.”

A majority of the students say they love the program. Minichiello asked students to evaluate their experience after the first couple of weeks and all of the students gave the program high marks.

Nick Maeda says, “They treat you like a college student. I think the academic environment here is great.”

Kaleigh Ryan shared, “My favorite thing about this program would probably be that we have to be really mature and responsible for all of our classes.”

Students are adjusting to not being in the high school environment on a daily basis. Some students prefer the college campus and its freedoms, while others miss the day-to-day interactions with friends that are part of life in high school.

Many students remain connected to their high schools in classes such as orchestra. Others are involved in after-school activities. This eases the transition into the program and helps them stay connected to their friends and interests at their schools.

Every Friday, the students participating in the program meet to reconnect and talk about their experiences. It’s a way administrators support the students and help them get to know each other.

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