The first high school students of the Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) Early College Program will receive their Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees in May 2016.
A group of seven Darlington High School (DHS) students are set to make history as the first ever to graduate from the Darlington County School District (DCSD) with an Associate of Arts degree. The 2016 graduating class includes: Thomas Gibson, Brittney Hales, Hayden Happ, Jade McPhatter, Alexis Ramirez, Russell Summerlin, and Kenya White.
“Each course in the program is taught by extremely qualified instructors,” said FDTC’s High School Outreach Coordinator, Angie Hayek. “While some courses are taught by DHS teachers who are also FDTC adjunct instructors, most courses are taught by FDTC faculty. Online classes have a DHS facilitator and an FDTC instructor.”
Wilson High School’s Ashley Griffin will be the first student from Florence School District 1 (FSD1) to graduate from FDTC’s Early College Program. Although, Griffin is a student at Wilson High School, throughout her entire time enrolled in the Early College Program, she has lived in New England, attending the Boston Ballet School and only coming home from time-to-time. Thanks to online courses, she was able to complete all of her requirements and will earn an Associates in Science degree at only 17 years old.
“Online classes have given me the flexibility I needed, and they have still been rigorous,” Griffin said. “This is important to me because although I aspire to be a professional ballerina, I also plan to further my education with a Bachelor’s degree in a Health Science related field and possibly go on to a medical program. It’s hard to believe that I will graduate with an Associate in Science degree at the age of seventeen! This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity that has allowed me to pursue my future dreams.”
Established in the summer of 2014, the program offers students the opportunity to take college classes leading to an Associate of Arts degree. A certified college instructor teaches in the high school. After the students have successfully earned a C or higher, they will earn at least three hours of college credit for each class.
“The program offers a rigorous collegiate experience for students and a substantial financial savings for students and their parents,” said Hayek. “In Early College Dual Enrollment, students have the opportunity to earn credits guaranteed to transfer to any public college or university within the state of South Carolina.”
Currently, the program offers 71 college hours. Determined and committed DHS Early College Magnet Program students have the opportunity to earn an Associate of Arts degree that will also fulfill most general education requirements for any public college and university in South Carolina. Students in the class of 2016 are the first to take advantage of this opportunity.
Thomas Gibson’s career goal is to obtain a degree in Computer Science or Engineering at a four-year college.
Brittney Hales has been accepted to Coker College, Converse College, and the University of South Carolina; she would like to pursue a career in athletic training.
Hayden Happ is the Founder and President of Darlington High School’s Technology Club; he has already been accepted to the University of South Carolina.
Jade McPhatter plans to attend pharmacy school; she is a member of the National Honors Society, National Art Honor Society and Anchor Club.
Alexis Ramirez has career goals to become a surgeon; she has been accepted to Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.
Russell Summerlin plans to attend Francis Marion University in the fall. He is especially proud to be the first person in his family to earn a college degree.
Kenya White has aspirations to become a registered nurse. She is a member of the National Honors Society, Student Government and her high school’s gospel choir.