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Lexington Two students in Early College program graduate Wednesday night

WEST COLUMBIA, SC -- Twenty-four Lexington Two high school students in the district’s Early College program graduated from Midlands Technical College Wednesday night.

Twelve of those students, all seniors, received Associate in Arts diplomas, among them two who received a second diploma, an Associate in Science. All students have earned a minimum 62 college credits and have taken 20-plus college courses.

Twelve students -- six seniors and six juniors -- received General College Studies Certificates, with a minimum 18 college credits earned and six-plus college courses taken.

The students, from Airport and Brookland-Cayce, all earned the college credits -- at no cost -- during their regular high school days.

For students like Airport High senior Saibriyya Pou, who became part of the Early College Cohort as a freshman, the program has been invaluable.

“I liked the idea of graduating with an Associate degree, of course, but also the idea of challenging myself,” said Pou, who has 62 college credits and will head to Clemson University this fall as an advanced sophomore to major in pre-professional health studies and pursue a doctorate in physical therapy. “School has always come easy to me, so I thought I would be a good fit into the program because I was ready for the challenge.”

There are roughly 70 Lexington Two high school students currently enrolled in various stages of the Early College program, a partnership with Midlands Tech.

“This program is a win-win for our students and their families,” said Lexington Two Superintendent Dr. William James Jr. “Our kids have gained a huge advantage, not only getting a significant jump-start on college work but saving on student loans, not working a job, not having mom and dad paying tuition.”

Early College differs from the AP program, in that students enrolled in AP courses must take the AP exam and receive the test score required by the college they wish to attend for the credit to be awarded. In the Early College certificate and degree programs, college credit may be earned without an AP exam.

Pou, who has a 4.986 grade point average at Airport, said being surrounded by students with similar goals creates a bond.

That support was especially important for Pou. She not only juggles an active life with academics and activities including the Beta Club, honor societies and leadership programs, but she faced a personal challenge earlier this year, when her family lost everything in a home fire. She said she escaped from her burning home carrying her baby brother.

“It was so devastating, and I took a couple days off from school, causing me to get a little behind on my Early College work,” she said. But, the support and understanding of teachers, advisers and fellow students helped her get caught up in her own time, she said. “I now realize the house fire was an obstacle that only humbled and motivated me to continue to excel in school and my everyday life.”

Among Lexington Two’s Early College students graduating from Midlands Tech:

  • Associate in Arts and Associate in Science diploma: Angel My’Kel Anderson, Maddyson Janet Frierson

  • Associate in Arts diploma: Kayla Anne Bouknight, Zachery David Brewster, James "Weston" Campbell, Makaylen "Seanna" Cook-Compton, Cayleen Mariah Hall, Autumn Hart Jackson, Leslianel Nieto Hernandez, Destiny Jean Payne, Saibriyya Pou

  • Associate in Arts degree and General College Studies Certificate: Talia Shamell Keller

  • General College Studies Certificate: Courtney Anne Bingham, Gavin Christopher Carrion, Jared Emmanuel Clyburn, Garrett Bailey Hester, R'Moni Cedaria Jarvis, Tatyanna Ly Natal-Alvarado, Emily Samantha Ortega Lopez, Elaine Isabella Powers, Jordan Camille Skinner, Ashleigh Grace Smith, Hailei Marie Watts

As students gathered for photographs outside Colonial Life Arena before Wednesday’s Midlands Tech graduation, their camaraderie was evident.

“We have motivated each other to make it to the finish line,” Pou said.

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