Big opportunities

Published 6:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2012

Escambia County High School student Terilyn Wright is one of the students juggling double duty this school year as she handles her normal high school workload, coupled with classes at Jefferson Davis Community College that will give her college credits before graduation.

Escambia County High School student Terilyn Wright is trying something only a brave few have done at the school: She not only takes high school courses, she also takes college courses.

Students at Escambia County High School have taken Advanced Placement (AP) courses in history, English, and math in past years, but this year, the school liked the idea of working locally with Jefferson Davis Community College.

“This year we have decided to partner with Jefferson Davis Community College,” Escambia County High School Principal Zickeyous Byrd said.

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“The kids get the opportunity to go over to Jefferson Davis and take courses on their campus.”

The concept is known as dual enrollment, where high school students take both high school courses and college courses for college credit while still fulfilling their requirements for high school graduation.

By going this route, students are able to gain credits if they put in hard work throughout the entire course of a semester, rather than the credits being based on whether or not they are able to pass one comprehensive exam.

“It makes so much more sense, so that’s why we chose to partner with Jefferson Davis,” Byrd said.

Wright said it was Byrd who encouraged her to try out what they call the Head Start program.

“He’s very encouraging,” Wright said. “I thought it was a great idea to get into Head Start.”

Wright said beyond giving her college credit, dual enrollment has also helped with her high school courses and has proven to be a fun experience, too.

“It’s really refreshing me and helping me in my high school courses also,” Wright said. “I really enjoy it. It’s a great experience—you meet new people, learn new things.”

Wright said dual enrollment has helped teach her to be a more disciplined student.

“The teachers are very different,” Wright said. “In college, you have to be self-disciplined. No one’s going to baby you.”

Byrd said no matter what past students scored on their AP exams, the courses still proved to be beneficial because such courses are similarly designed to prepare students to become more disciplined.

Byrd also confirmed that past students of Escambia County High School felt better prepared for college after taking AP courses.

“It prepared them for what they’re doing now,” Byrd said. “They got the opportunity to prepare themselves for college-level courses.”

As for future plans, just as Byrd said, Wright is already ahead of the curve.

“I do plan on finishing out at Jefferson Davis, get my two-year degree and transfer to a University to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.”