Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Four VHS seniors graduate with dual degrees

Hard work, good partnerships lead to great success

Four students from the Vienna High School Class of 2013 have not only completed their requirements for high school graduation, but have also completed their associate degree at Shawnee Community College. The dual graduating students include (seated from left) Andrew Williams, Keeley Harper, Emmalee Anderson and Brandi McCuan.
The students gathered Monday at Shawnee College with Vienna High School curriculum director Joshua Stafford, VHS superintendent Edwin Shoemate, Shawnee Community College vice president Vickie Artman, SCC dean of student services Jean Ellen Boyd and SCC president Dr. Tim Bellamy.

The month of May brings about great celebrations in the world of education. From grade schools, high schools, colleges and universities, learning institutions will be recognizing the achievements of their students.

Like other graduating classes, the Vienna High School Class of 2013 will celebrate the scholarly achievements of its members, including two valedictorians, a salutatorian, eight four year honors students, eight Illinois State Scholars, and numerous scholarship recipients.

In addition to these impressive achievements, there is a distinction that makes this class unique.

Four students from the Vienna High School Class of 2013 have not only completed their requirements for high school graduation, but have also completed their associate degree at Shawnee Community College. Emmalee Anderson, Brandi McCuan, Keeley Harper and Andrew Williams will be among the other college graduates on Friday, May 17, participating in Shawnee Community College’s graduation ceremony, followed by their high school graduation at VHS on Saturday, May 18.

Mr. Edwin Shoemate, Vienna High School superintendent, stated “Our entire school works hard at creating opportunities for students to set and reach goals that build a foundation for a lifetime.”

Emmalee Anderson set her sights on completing her associate’s degree at the end of her sophomore year after some health related challenges prevented her from pursuing goals in athletics. She changed her focus to optimizing dual credit opportunities in order to gain hours toward an associate’s degree.  Following her SCC/VHS graduation, Anderson plans to attend Mid-Continent University to complete her bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in psychology.

Brandi McCuan started her sophomore year planning a career in the medical field.  She quickly realized that it would take several years of college to attain this goal.  McCuan began working with the high school and college advisors to get enrolled in college coursework in order to reach her goals with less debt and in a shorter time period. Following her SCC/VHS graduation, Brandi will be serving in the Air Force and earning her bachelor’s degree in human science.

Keeley Harper has a passion for music and had her mind set on attending Belmont University in Nashville.  She realized that the cost of her college education at Belmont would be substantial. To help reduce the cost of her education, she decided to complete her associates at SCC while still in high school.  Harper has been accepted at Belmont University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music business.

Andrew Williams has aspired to be a doctor of chiropractic since his junior year of high school. At the end of his sophomore year, Williams realized that VHS had several dual credit opportunities. Williams laid out a plan to finish two years of his eight-year college education while he was still in high school. Following his VHS/SCC graduation, he has been accepted at several area universities to complete his undergraduate degree, prior to attending Logan College of Chiropractic.

Vienna High School curriculum director, Joshua Stafford stated, “I am amazed at the outstanding accomplishments of our students here at Vienna.  We are similar to other rural areas of the state when it comes to funding and demographics, but the exception is our people.  We have an outstanding staff, great students and parents, and a local community college this is truly student-centered and a good partner.”

Overall, the Class of 2013 at VHS has collectively completed over 2,000 hours towards their college degrees through the dual credit partnership with Shawnee Community College. These hours have been earned not only through dual credit offerings at the high school, but also by students attending classes at the college, both online and at the colleges’ campuses.

Shawnee Community College president Dr. Tim Bellamey praised the students and the partnership between Shawnee Community College and Vienna High School. “These students are to be commended for achieving this milestone. This is very difficult to accomplish and requires tremendous dedication and effort.   A strong dual enrollment partnership between Shawnee Community College and Vienna High School helped make this opportunity possible.”

Jean Ellen Boyd, SCC, commented, “What an outstanding accomplishment!   These students have gone above and beyond to reach some remarkable goals and I am very excited that Shawnee College was a part of their continued educational plan.”

Mrs. Vickie Artman, SCC, stated “These students have challenged themselves to take their education to a higher level while simultaneously completing the requirements for high school.  I congratulate them in meeting their academic goals and wish them much success and happiness.