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    CONTACT: Myrna Whitehead

    (806) 716-2212


    Six Frenship High School seniors to graduate from South Plains College


    LEVELLAND – It started with three. Now there are six others. And, next year, there could possibly be more than 20. It is the trend of high school seniors graduating from college before receiving their high school diplomas.

    Six current Frenship High School seniors will receive their associate’s degree before graduating from high school on May 27. Natalie M. Alexander, Krista R. Hernandez, Justin G. Robinson, Kirsten G. Smith, Paeden M. Swinford and Mistty W. Walmsley will be among the 1,447 degrees and certificates bestowed on the Class of 2012. Five will receive an Associate of Arts degree and one will receive an Associate of Science degree. All six are dual credit students.

    The Dual Credit Program at South Plains College allows selected students to enroll in college-level courses and earn college credit while a junior or senior in high school. Thanks to a cooperative agreement between SPC and Frenship Independent School District, participating students take classes that generally are offered at the high school.

    According to Ron Spears, associate dean of Dual Credit at SPC, the Early College High School program was operated through the Texas Education Association. In this initiative, school districts could renew their grant to pay for the students’ tuition and books while pursuing their associate’s degrees. The administration at FHS did not renew their grant but continued to fund the program for its students.

    “Because of the commitment of the administration at Frenship, they have continued to provide for their students to be a part of this program,” Spears said. “Next year, they will honor the final 22 students in the program.”

    Although the cost of college has been alleviated by FHS, the students have had to make sacrifices in order to complete their coursework and obtain their degrees.

    “I gave up sleep, my job and staying up late to spend my time studying and focusing on school,” Robinson said. “Taking these classes online has really helped me mature as a person.”

    Robinson, son of Stan and Katrina Robinson, plans to study medicine at Texas Tech University. He said he started taking his coursework seriously this semester.

    Hernandez saw the opportunity to earn a college degree without having to pay for it and seized it. She credits her mother for pointing her in the right direction.

    “All the hard work pays off,” Hernandez said. “I thought I wanted to become a licensed vocational nurse but I opted not to do that. I want to be a doctor.”

    Hernandez is the daughter of Joe and Rosa Hernandez. She plans to study biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. One of the benefits of the dual credit program is that students tend to find success in other areas.

    According to Smith, she said that she really started working harder at her coursework and gave up cross country track to spend more time on her academics.

    “I left track because I was doing it to be able to go to college,” Smith said. “The (dual credit) courses weren’t easy, but it made me put more effort into my other courses.”

    She is the daughter of Doug and Katrina Smith. She plans to study child life and family studies at Abilene Christian University. Smith said that she is now prepared to be on her own. The dual credit opportunity can enhance the high school experience.

    “I figured that as long as I had to be in high school, I might as well get the college stuff done, too,” Alexander said.

    Alexander, daughter of John and Norma Alexander, said she made the decision to pursue her associate’s degree while in the eighth grade. She plans to attend Texas Tech University and study business. She said the dual credit curriculum taught her self-discipline and she would recommend it to others. The coursework allows students to take classes around their schedules.

    “I always wanted to get into art but it wouldn’t fit my schedule,” Walmsley said. “Now I am looking forward to going to college and seeing the diversity of people on campus.”

    Walmsley is the daughter of Nancy Wennrich and Lucky Walmsley. She plans to study anthropology and interdisciplinary studies at UTSA.

    Although Swinford received his Associate of Science degree, he plans to attend the Wolfforth Fire Academy.

    “I liked the dual credit program because it taught me time management,” Swinford said. “And I do intend to go to a four-year school and study engineering down the road.”

    Swinford is the son of Curtis and Nancy Swinford. He said taking dual credit courses was the best thing he could have done because it puts him ahead of so many others.

    2012 FHS Graduates

      COLLEGE GRADS – Six students from Frenship High School will participate in the South Plains College 54th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Friday (May 11) in the Texan Dome. Shown on the front row is Krista Hernandez. On the second row, from left, are Kirsten Smith, Natalie Alexander and Mistty Walmsley. On the back row are Justin Robinson and Paeden Swinford. More than 600 students will participate in the ceremony that will feature a record-number of diplomas and certificates, 1,447. (SPC Photo/Wes Underwood)



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