Whale Branch Early College High School senior Ariana Davis added to her list of honors today when she was named the 2012 Young Achiever by the Technical College of the Lowcountry.
Davis and classmate Tanasia Hamilton will be the first two Whale Branch seniors to graduate with both high school diplomas and Associate’s Degrees from TCL. Whale Branch’s partnership with TCL allows students to take college courses while still in high school, at no charge to their families.
Davis ranks third in her graduating high school class and maintains a 4.2 grade-point average. She is a member of the National Honor Society and SWAPA. Her community activities include fellowship at Lady’s Island Baptist Church, where she serves as a youth usher and a member of the youth chorus. She is scheduled to receive her TCL degree on May 11 and her high school diploma on June 7.
Davis and Hamilton were both recognized at today’s TCL ceremonies for being Associate’s Degree candidates. In addition, seven other Whale Branch seniors were recognized for completing significant college-level coursework at TCL: Quandaireal Blue, Adrian Byam, Blakely Fields, Cameron Fletcher, Trey Polite, Vanessa Scott and Tinisha Williams. In December, TCL also awarded Fletcher a Certificate in Applied Science.
“When we partnered with TCL’s commissioners and President Tom Leitzel several years ago, the Board of Education and I were confident that the early college would show positive results,” said Superintendent Valerie Truesdale. “But I don’t think any of us anticipated how quickly it would happen.”
Truesdale said the early college option is attracting significant numbers of students to Whale Branch Early College High, which is one of 10 district schools that parents can select even if they are outside children’s zoned attendance areas. More than 50 parental requests to transfer their children from other high schools to Whale Branch have already been approved for next school year.
“This idea sells itself, and the word is getting around,” Trusdale said.
Earning college credits while still in high school qualifies students not only to graduate from high school, but also to graduate from TCL with an Associate’s Degree. That represents a two-year head-start as they begin work toward a Bachelor’s degree or enter the workforce.
While any district student can take college-level courses at TCL, Whale Branch High’s instructional program is built around its partnership with the technical college. Of this year’s graduating class of 126 seniors, 30 (one out of four) took college classes. Two seniors (Ariana and Tanasia) earned full Associate’s Degrees, and 19 more earned at least 24 college credit-hours, or about one year of college credit at TCL.
Whale Branch students qualify to take TCL courses through standardized tests. When the school opened in fall 2010, 13 students qualified to take two or more college-level courses through the school’s partnership with TCL. That number has climbed rapidly since then, and when the school began its second year of operation in 2011, 76 students qualified. Through the fall 2011 semester, Whale Branch students had attempted 729 credit hours of college-level work and successfully completed 642 credit hours – an 88 percent passing rate. For spring 2012, 44 percent of the school’s 68 qualifying students were enrolled in three or more college-level courses. Eleven TCL courses are now woven into the WBECHS daily schedule.
College courses are offered on site at Whale Branch, and students have the option of taking additional courses at the TCL campus. Among the most popular college courses this semester were Intro to College Algebra, College Algebra, Western Civilization, English Composition I and Introduction to Computers.
Courtesy of Jim Foster
Director of School and Community Services
Beaufort County School District