Four students at Lakeview High School graduation on Saturday, May 31 didn’t pick up their diplomas at the conclusion of the ceremony.
It was completely intentional, as they are the first from Lake County to enroll in the Advanced Diploma Program, which allows graduates to delay receipt of their high school diploma in order to take up to 36 college credits through Klamath Community College (KCC) free of charge.
Since implementation of the program at KCC for fall 2013, 168 students in Klamath County have enrolled in the program, delaying their high school graduation to get a free year of college completely paid for, as well as some taking advantage of a free and reduced lunch program also offered.
This fall will be the first time that Lake County residents have the opportunity to participate in the Advanced Diploma program, with Lake County School District #7 Supt. Sean Gallagher hoping many more will take full advantage in future years.
“For the first time in history, some will be staying with us by choice for a year,” said Gallagher at the LHS graduation ceremony, while holding up a Next Steps Certificate, which was distributed in lieu of the standard diploma.
Students enrolled in the program will be able to take college course work through KCC at the Innovation Learning Center (ILC), with tuition and books fully paid for by LCSD#7.
The program is beneficial beyond the obvious financial benefit of free college for a year, it provides additional support for students who may need academic and other areas of assistance with making the often difficult and intimidating transition to college, particularly when coming from a small isolated community.
Since enrollment in the program does technically mean the students have not yet graduated from high school, their participation does not impact LCSD#7 graduation rates.
In exchange for offering the chance for up to a year of free college with ever-rising tuition costs, it is a deal Gallagher is happy to make.
Enrolled students in the program will continue to have full access to high school counseling and faculty support, lunches and support from KCC staff.
A grand opening event for the ILC was held June 12 at the Daly Middle School Auditorium, which included a signing ceremony for the agreement between LCSD#7 and KCC.
Current students at the ILC were available to provide tours of the facility along with several keynote speakers present to discuss the ILC and answer questions.
With no community college in Lake County, the development of the ILC and the Advanced Diploma Program is the first time that graduating seniors have the option to pursue their college education without having to leave the community.