Two dozen William Monroe High School students were honored last Thursday as Early College Scholars. These 24 students will graduate with an associate degree from Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) in addition to receiving their high school diploma.
PVCC’s Early College Scholars program allows students to pursue an associate degree while attending William Monroe High School. Twenty-two of the 24 students celebrated completed their associate degree in general studies. For the first time in the program’s history, two students branched off from general studies to pursue associates in other areas – Alexis Davidson, natural and physical sciences, and Paul Orange, business administration.
“Tonight we’re here to celebrate the accomplishment of these 24 students,” PVCC President Frank Freidman said during the ceremony. “They’ve earned, while in high school, over 60 college credits. That means about 20 college courses successfully completed while in high school.”
Freidman noted that more than 100 members of the Greene County community donated more than $1 million to PVCC to aide in creating the facility that houses the program, with the largest donors being Ethyle Giuseppe and Mark and Barbara Fried.
“This traces its roots all the way back to 2011,” he said. “This place was an empty shell at that time and we had to raise money to complete it. This program goes back to very smart decisions by people who really care about Greene County and the people who live here. It’s a Greene County success story.”
Including the class of 2019, 73 students have graduated from the Early College Scholars program over the last four years. Next year, 105 students at William Monroe are expected to be working toward their associate degree while in high school. Greene County Public Schools Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh said this represents more than 11 percent of the student population.
“I’m honored to be here today speaking in front of the very people who made this program possible,” Whitmarsh said to the audience last Thursday. “All of you embraced the potential to create something new and better for the future of this community. You embraced an idea and our kids took it and ran with it, and what a beautiful race it has been.”
Before receiving a custom-made graduation stole, eight students spoke – all expressing thanks for the people who’ve made the program possible.
All of the program’s graduates this year are headed to four-year colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, James Madison University and University of Richmond.
“This program has taught me so much, not only academically, but it’s equipped me with super important life skills at a very young age,” Early College Scholars graduate Sydney Howard said.