BEAUFORT – A record 15 Whale Branch Early College High School seniors will receive two-year college Associate’s degrees today, two weeks before they receive their South Carolina high school diplomas.
The students took advantage of a partnership with the Technical College of the Lowcountry that allows Whale Branch students to take college courses – and earn two-year associate’s degrees – while still in high school, and at no cost to themselves or their parents. The TCL degree represents a two-year head-start as the students work toward earning a Bachelor’s degree or entering the workforce.
The 15 students represent a significant improvement for the joint WBECHS-TCL initiative, which is completing its fifth year. Only one student earned both a high school and college associate’s degree in spring 2012, but that number increased to two in 2013, seven in 2014 and nine in 2015.
While any district student can take college-level courses at TCL, Whale Branch High’s instructional program is built around its partnership with TCL. Of this year’s graduating class of 103 seniors, 34 percent completed college classes and earned college credits – the highest percentage in the high school’s history.
Ninety-one students who live outside Whale Branch Early College High’s attendance zone – also a record number – will attend next year through the district’s expanded school choice program.
“The news from Whale Branch gets more exciting every year,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “It’s a win-win for students and their parents. Students can earn a four-year college degree in just two years, and their parents pay for only two years of tuition.
“The increasing numbers of students who choose to attend Whale Branch shows that students and parents understand that earning college credits without having to pay for them is a good deal.”
This year, 10 Whale Branch seniors have earned TCL associate’s degrees in both Arts and Science. Those 10 seniors are London Becker-House, Lacy Brooks, Jared Davis, Brooke Everly, Tayla Hill, Ernest Jenkins, Deystinee Lightner, Julian Parker, Ashley White and Kevin Young.
Four Whale Branch seniors – Nadiah Gantt, Lauryn Goodwin, Juliet House and Rana Norris – have earned Associate in Arts degrees, and Whale Branch senior DaJa Smalls has earned an Associate in Science degree.
In addition, 10 other Whale Branch seniors will graduate from high school with college certificates for completing significant college-level coursework at TCL: Bre’Ann Barrett, Bryan Brantley, Ivan Bryant, Ashley Chance, Geordy Delcid, Samuel Green, Jonae’ Riley, Shanelle Webb, Nicole Wilson and Jordan Wright.
College courses are offered on site at Whale Branch, and students have the option of taking additional courses at the TCL campus. Among some of the most popular college courses are Probability and Statistics, College Algebra, Western Civilization, English Composition I and Introduction to Computers.