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These HS seniors aren’t just graduates; they are also halfway through college

Weatherford High School graduate Randi Rovnyak will attend Texas A&M and study animal science. Rovnyak is one of five Weatherford students to graduate in the dual credit program known as the Collegiate Academy with Weatherford College

Wherever life takes them from here, five seniors at Weatherford High School will have a special shared history by making history.

Colby Hicks, Randi Rovnyak, Kassidy Schwarz, Blaine Shaw and Grant Stinson are the first Weatherford students to graduate in the dual credit program known as the Collegiate Academy with Weatherford College. As a result, each not only received a high school diploma, but also an associate degree from the college.

Thanks to the Collegiate Academy, they will be entering their junior year of college.

Weatherford College President Dr. Tod Allen Farmer, a graduate of both schools, said the historical occasion is an exciting moment for him professionally and personally.

“These five early graduates not only have saved a lot of time and money, they will earn two years additional wages, pay two years additional taxes to give back to society, and they will have two additional years to plan for retirement at the end of their careers,” he said. “I am so very proud of each of these five students, and of the exceptional educational opportunities that Weatherford ISD is providing for our shared students.”

Charlotte Lagrone, the Weatherford schools Executive Director of Organizational Culture, said the value of dual credit is more than the college credit earned.

“It’s the opportunity to challenge the demands of college work while still being supported by high school faculty and staff. Students are able to practice the soft skills needed for college success before they are independently taking college classes away from home,” Lagrone said.

She said another advantage is the cost savings of taking courses from Weatherford College compared to tuition for a larger school where the student does not live.

“Even if a student isn’t part of the Collegiate Academy, the cost savings can be significant, especially if they are planning to attend a private college or university,” she said.

“This program allows me to break through age barriers and traditional timelines,” said Stinson, who plans to attend Texas A&M and major in computer science. “I have been able to get through half of my college for a significantly discounted price. If I were not in this program, it is likely that my overall cost for college would be $15,000 more than what it is now.”

Students qualify for the Collegiate Academy utilizing SAT, ACT, or TSI test scores.

“It has jump-started my professional future possibilities and has allowed me to be the first person in my family to graduate from college,” said Hicks, who will now be attending Scarborough College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to pursue a bachelor’s in humanities before continuing on to seminary.

Rovnyak will also attend Texas A&M and study animal science, with plans to become an exotic or livestock veterinarian. Schwarz is headed to Blinn College, then veterinary school with a career goal of becoming a large animal vet, specializing in cattle. Shaw plans to attend Texas State University and major in business management.

To support the opportunity for students to take dual credit courses during high school, Texas Bank Financial offers a scholarship to qualifying students. Over the past four years, they have contributed well over $80,000 in scholarships.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to take college classes during high school. I spent many summer hours working on college classes while others chose to take a break,” Schwarz said. “A four-year journey well worth it. Hard work and dedication truly pays off for the individuals who chose not to fear a challenge.”

by Rick Mauch
Special to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram