AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with Amarillo College announced that eight students from the Highland Park Independent School District are expected to graduate with both their high school and Amarillo College diplomas.

“Class of 2023 is going to be the 10th anniversary of that partnership,” said Highland Park ISD Superintendent Jimmy Hannon. “To date, we’ve had 46 kids that have gone through that program and graduated with their associate degree as they graduate from high school. We feel like that gives them a head start over there their educational goals.”

According to a news release from the college, Highland Park ISD has participated in the college’s Diplomas and Degrees program for 14 years, with eight students also graduating from Amarillo College this year and transferring to other programs, including:

  • Mercedes Harton will attend Colorado State University and major in zoology
  • Johnathan Hoang will attend Texas Tech University and major in computer engineering
  • Sarah Hooper will attend the University of Texas and major in biochemistry
  • Kierra Kosechata will attend Amarillo College and Austin Community College and major in biology and nursing
  • Johnny Lam will attend the University of Texas and major in pre-medicine/neuroscience
  • Braylee Lewis will attend Texas Tech University and major in chemical engineering
  • Tiffany Lunde will attend West Texas A&M University and major in education
  • Binh Nguyen will attend the University of Texas and major in economics

“I feel like it’s been a huge accomplishment to be able to graduate high school and college at the same time, said Kosechata. “It’s crazy that we’re graduating college before graduating high school. Throughout the years it’s been really hard for me to balance both, but I think that finally getting here and it being the day to graduate is really nice.”

According to the release, the program from Amarillo College allows ninth-graders to enroll in dual-credit classes through the college, allowing the students to earn a full associate degree by their senior year. The program includes 18 area high schools but was piloted with Highland Park ISD in 2009.

“They go in as juniors into their university transfer university,” said Amarillo College Director of Secondary Projects and Dual Credit, Sandra Delarosa. “Most importantly, it gives them the college experience early. They learn time management, how to not procrastinate, how to ask for help, and most importantly to advocate for themselves.”

According to the release, 206 students throughout the area have completed the program, with 192 students currently completing the program.

“At Highland Park High School, we are very thankful for our partnership with Amarillo College,” said school counselor Rala Underwood. “The Diplomas & Degrees program has allowed our students to challenge themselves academically and emotionally. This program has prepared our students with a strong foundation to be successful at a four-year university. Over the last 10 years, the Amarillo College faculty and staff have welcomed our students, guided our students, and prepared our students for success. All graduates of the program are grateful for this opportunity.”

According to the release, Amarillo College’s spring commencement ceremonies are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday at the Amarillo Civic Center, with a total of 54 area high school seniors being expected to take part in the festivities.

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