Commencement season for LCPS seniors begins in a very big way Thursday when Lenoir County Early College High School awards diplomas to the largest group of graduates in its 10-year history.
Early College’s Class of 2018 numbers 56 students, nearly twice the size of previous years. The first of five graduation ceremonies for LCPS high schools, Early College’s commencement will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the gymnasium at Lenoir Community College.
LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams and Dr. Rusty Hunt, president of LCC, will join student speakers on the program. Members of the Class of 2018 scheduled to speak are Nazir Sims, Super Senior class representative, and the class’s top academic performers, Heather Faulkner and Kelsey Kennedy.
Other graduation exercises in the school district will be held Friday, June 9, for Lenoir County Learning Academy, and Saturday, June 10, for Kinston High, North Lenoir High and South Lenoir High. Because Early College operates on a school calendar that aligns with that of LCC, where Early College is housed, it starts and ends the school year about a month ahead of the district’s traditional high schools.
In truth, many these seniors completed their high school core courses two years ago and largely moved into the college curriculum, following the plan at Early College that allows students to earn both a high school diploma and a degree or certification from LCC in four or five years.
Four years is becoming more the norm – hence, the dramatic increase in the size of the graduating class. The change in 2014 to block scheduling, which allows students to take more classes and accumulate credits faster, made earning both a diploma and degree in four years more achievable.
In 2014, when total enrollment was about 200, Early College had 25 graduates. In 2017, when enrollment was 209, the graduating class numbered 37 – a record until this year. For 2018, despite a dip in enrollment to 204, Early College is graduating 19 more seniors than a year ago.
Of the 56 graduates, 43 are on track to get either an associate degree or occupational certification from LCC. Sixteen of those earned an associate degree alongside their diploma in four years. The college will award its degrees and certifications the day after the high school commencement, at 7 p.m. Friday in the gym.
Nearly half of the Class of 2018 – 26 students – is headed to a four-year college, where most will enter as juniors. Eight graduates plan to attend community college, three have enlisted in the military and 18 plan to join the workforce.
“This group of students have worked hard, and we are very proud of them and their accomplishments and expect great things from them in the near future,” principal Diane Heath said.