Seniors prepare to make early exit

By By Mara Mcallister

As winter break approaches, students are eager to take a break from homework, studying and finals.
But for some seniors this break from school will be much longer. They will finish their high school careers early and graduate at the end of this semester.
To graduate students need 23 credits, and the new schedule allows for more students to acquire these and qualify for early graduation.
“With the new schedule of seven hours per day, by the end of junior year, students are at 21 credits if they’ve passed everything they’re enrolled in — more than that if they take a zero hour,” counselor Lori Stussie said.
Thirty-four seniors are expected to graduate early this year. About five juniors intend to graduate a year early. Stussie finds that statistic surprising because many more students could graduate early.
“I think probably about 80 percent of our students could graduate at semester if they choose to,” Stussie said.
Students graduating early have varied reasons for doing so but the majority feel ready to move forward with their lives beyond high school.
“I’m ready to get out of high school,” senior Katy Brady said.
Brady’s sentiments were expressed by other students as well.
“School just isn’t really my thing,” senior Tanner Theilen said. “If I could get out earlier with a little bit harder work load, why not?”
Stussie cautions students against rushing into the real world too quickly though.
“I think one thing that’s important to remember is that you only get to do high school once,” Stussie said. “I would hate for a student to give up the opportunity to participate in high school activities because they’re in a big hurry to go out and join the real world.”
But the real world is an alluring place for students like senior Yoonji Seo. Seo is graduating at semester with the intention to go to university in her native country Korea to study piano. Graduating early was a necessity for her to accomplish these goals.
“In Korea, they have a different system,” Seo said. “They start school in March, so if I make it there I didn’t want to start later than other people.”
Seo is one of the few seniors interviewed who planned to immediately pursue classes after graduating early.
Another student planning to enter the workforce is senior MacKenzie Breithaupt. Breithaupt plans to work full time next semester before going to college in the fall of 2013, but she is unsure about her decision.
“I’m scared I’m going to have a hard time getting back into the school routine after a semester off,” Breithaupt said.
Although she’s nervous, Breithaupt is also excited for what the future holds.
“I’m excited to get away from the school stress and drama,” Breithaupt said. “I’m also looking forward to getting my first job and opening myself up to the real world.”