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Early College grads set a record

The promise of the early college concept – that freshmen entering from middle school will, in four or five years, earn not only a high school diploma but also a two-year college degree – has never been more fully realized at Lenoir County Early College High School than by its Class of 2019.

Forty-five seniors received diplomas at the high school commencement Wednesday night and 41 of them returned to the Lenoir Community College gym on Thursday to formally receive their associate degrees. That 91 percent success rate is a record, according to principal Diane Heath.

“This year’s seniors have been very dedicated in pursuing successful paths all their lives,” Heath told the commencement audience. “During the past four to five years, these students have been dedicated to truly leaving their mark.”

The class, which includes 30 honors graduates, generated more than $300,000 in college scholarships, among them Carolina Covenant scholarships to the University of North Carolina for Arianna Brinkley and Anna Van, academically No. 1 and No. 2 in the class, respectively. Thirty-three students will continue their education at a four-year or two-year college, three are entering the military and eight are entering the workforce.

Wednesday night’s ceremony, as is tradition with Early College commencements, put the spotlight on students and gave representatives of the graduating class a chance to sum up their experiences at the school, express their appreciation and say tentative good-byes.

Dana Langley speaks at graduation “This evening is a tribute, not only to the graduating class but a tribute to those who supported us over the last 13 years,” Dana Langley, student body co-president, said in the first of three student speeches.

Anna Van recalled the trouble she had with a college-level calculus course and what she learned in confronting less than her usual success in the classroom. “Instead of letting failure discourage you, let it encourage you to do better. Instead of letting failure define you, choose how you define that failure,” she advised her classmates. “I want you to leave with this message tonight: I have tried, I have failed and I will continue Anna Van speaks at graduation to try.”

Miranda Quinn touched on an unexpected benefit of choosing to become an Early College student, a benefit beyond the academic opportunities her class so fully realized. “What you did not know is that by coming to the Early College you would gain so much more than an education,” she said.

“You gained memories, life experiences and, most importantly, you gained a family. Because we are a small school, we are pretty close to everyone in it. I believe this is what makes our high school unique. We established connections with our classmates and the staff that left an Miranda Quinn speaks at graduation impression that will last far beyond graduation.”

Like Dr. Rusty Hunt, LCC president, who opened the commencement program, Superintendent Brent Williams praised the partnership between LCPS and LCC that created Early College in 2007 and has allowed it to thrive in the years since.

“Early College High School has been good for you,” Williams told the graduating class, “but, guess what – you have been good for Early College High School and for Lenoir County Public Schools. Since you’ve been here, Lenoir County Early College High School has gone from being a very good school to a great school. It’s gone from being an experiment in education to being a nationally recognized high school.”

The superintendent urged the graduates to remember “all those simple lessons your parents taught you. They told you the Gold Rule is essential for life. Work hard every day. Display kindness to others. Always remember no obstacle is too great for you. Always remember you will always have a home in Lenoir County. Tonight, I say congratulations. We look forward to all the greatness that lies before you.”

Honor graduates in the Lenoir County Early College High School Class of 2019 are:

Cum Laude (3.50-3.69 GPA) – Diana Gonzalez-Gutierrez, Brittany Joy Houston, Lindsey Nicole Mitchell and Noah Daniels Smith.

Magna Cum Laude (3.70-3.99 GPA) – Destiny Ann Brochure, Hannah Noelle Bryan, Carlie Jenet Daughety, Aniyah Jalen Hightower, Dana Chanel Langley, Taylor Pilar McCarty, Bryson Kolby McGlynn, Harmony Chapell Miller, Allison Paige Moody, Victoria Marie Neal, Alex Charles Ormond, Jessica Gabriel Register, Kamari Kianna Sheppard, Jacquan Latavis Skinner, Andrew Lawrence Todd, Evelyn Rose Willms and Kathleen Elizabeth Wimbush.

Summa Cum Laude (4.00-5.00 GPA) – Andrea Brooke Adamson, Ariana Monet Brinkley, Stuart Wayne Giles, Janneli Gonzalez-Villasenor, Ty Joel Herring, Naisha Nicole Joyner, Miranda Shea Quinn, Brittany Ann-Marie Smith and Anna Tu Vann.