New Program Allows Students to Graduate with Two Diplomas

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Superintendents from metro school districts came together four years ago to give qualifying students a chance to graduate with an associate's degree. Metropolitan Community College Blue River offers a program called Trailblazer Collegiate Academy.

Dozens of students are splitting their time between high school and college courses offered at MCC Blue River. When the students leave high school they will have two diplomas.

High school senior Ethan Millsap is graduating in May. He took his first college course, English 101 when he was a junior.

"Doing the community college is great," Millsap said. "You're knocking off classes, it's cheaper than going straight into a four year university."

Basil Lister recruits high school students for MCC's Trailblazer Academy.

"I think it exposes them to the college setting early on which makes them more prepared,"  said Basil Lister/Metropolitan Community College. "We kind of started with just a class of five students just to try it and see if we could work on that."

Students need to have at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify. They also need college placement test scores equivalent to college work, recommendations from a high school staff including a principal and a written essay.

"We found some success in that and we have been heavily recruiting students since then," Lister said

Millsap recently got accepted to West Point. His college credits might not transfer exactly the same as if he'd stayed in the state system, but it's still a benefit.

"My first semester there I won't have to take English 101," he said. "They'll move me straight up into 102."

The first class of students will graduate from the Trailblazer Program at the Blue River Campus in May.

For more information on the program click here.

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