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Caston seniors earn school’s first Indiana College Core certificates

In World
May 11, 2024

May 10—The smiles on the faces of Caston High School seniors Ava Sylvain and Jullina Sherrick said it all. Every ounce of effort was worth it.

The two students had just gone through the Ivy Tech Kokomo commencement ceremony Friday afternoon, having completed the Indiana College Core requirements.

The Indiana College Core consists of 30 credit hours in six areas such as quantitative reasoning, speaking and listening and written communication. Students can start taking dual credit classes through Ivy Tech as high school juniors that go towards its requirements.

The completion of the Indiana College Core amounts to one year of college, meaning students who finish the requirements enter their chosen school as sophomores. All credits earned are meant to transfer to any Indiana public university.

If Sylvain and Sherrick were this excited about the common core, what would they be feeling when they go through the real Caston High School graduation on May 24?

Sherrick said they were both nervous before the ceremony began, having never gone through graduation before.

“When I was sitting there it was kind of a surreal moment,” she said. “Wow, we each actually did this.”

For Sylvain and Sherrick, their journey all began with a poster about the Indiana College Core and free classes from Ivy Tech. Sylvain suggested to Sherrick that they should join the program.

“I said why not,” Sherrick said. “We can do it together.”

She said the workload was a lot of stress but she was thankful she took up the challenge.

“Students get ahead in their college classes,” said Tina Paschen, a guidance counselor at Caston. “They don’t have to pay for these credits so it’s going to save them a lot of money in the end. It’s a lot of work up front but they will be ahead of the ballgame when they get into college.”

“It’s totally worth it in the end,” Sylvain said. “It’s a whole year of college that we didn’t have to pay for.”

Jovanny Hernadez, a college connection coach at Ivy Tech, said both of the students worked really hard to accomplish their goal.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “Especially the college core. It’s recognized by the state and meets the requirements of the first year of college. It saves you money. Think about it, one year at IUK is about $9,000 and students save that (by completing the core).”

Both of the students felt having completed the college core was going to create an easier transition into college.

Sherrick and Sylvain said they learned that college classes take a lot of personal responsibility, that they can’t expect a college professor to hold their hands.

“I think it also helps them understand the expectations before they get to college,” said Paschen. “The expectations at the college level are a lot different. They realize that now, where a lot of kids, if they don’t take dual credit classes, they get into college and can be overwhelmed because they didn’t understand those expectations going in.”

“The only thing we will have to get used to is just not living at home,” said Sylvain.

Another benefit of taking college core courses was that each student confirmed they chose the right major before they even walk across their high school graduation stage.

In the fall, Sylvain will attend Ball State’s honors college to major in biology. Sherrick is heading IU-Indy (formerly IUPUI) to study psychology and science.

Thanks to the college core, Sylvain took an intro to biology course and knew she had chosen the right major. Sherrick took intro to psychology and also knew she was on the right path.

Sylvain said it felt “really cool” to be walking in a college graduation before she even graduates high school. It’s an opportunity she never expected.

While the extra work was often a challenge, she hoped other students would take advantage of the opportunity.

“You don’t have to pay for any of the classes,” she said. “It’s free. You learn a lot. It will make the transition to college so much easier.”

Paschen said she was very proud of the two students.

“They embraced it from the very beginning,” she said. “It is really hard what they did. But they stuck to it.”

“I recommend everyone do it,” Sylvain said after commencement. “This is just such an easy way to get a certificate. I recommend it to all students, not just Caston.”

Berries take advantage

While Sylvain and Sherrick were the first two Caston students to go through graduation at Ivy Tech, Logansport High School has been working with the college since 2019 and their students have bought into the program.

Last year, Logansport saw their first two students earn associate degrees before graduating high school. This year, 10 students earned associate degrees. In 2025, 40 students will graduate with an associate degree.

Approximately 60 students earned their Indiana College Core certificate.

“It’s amazing, the amount of money they save,” said Abby Lundy, director of early college at the school. “There’s no cost for any student to take those classes here at Logansport High School. For example, you go to Purdue and that first year at Purdue is going to cost you 25,000 dollars. The amount of money saved is amazing. Our credentialed teachers are great. You have that extra support that you might not have in a large college lecture class. It’s a smaller class. Your peers are there. You know everybody in the class. It’s more of a supportive atmosphere.”

Senior Emily Sanchez was one of the 10 students who earned an associate degree Friday.

“I can’t believe I graduated college before high school,” Sanchez laughed after the ceremony. “I’m just all excited and nervous and my stomach hurts but it’s all out of joy and happiness.”

Sanchez said she spent all of her junior and senior years of high school taking online classes through Ivy Tech to accomplish the feat, even missing out on a family vacation so she could focus on her studies.

“There were a lot of sacrifices,” she said.

Logansport received a grant to help their teachers gain the credentials needed to teach the dual credit classes. In order to teach those classes, teachers must have a master’s degree in the subject they are teaching. The grant allowed for teachers to gain the needed credentials to assist in the program.

Lundy said that Logansport wouldn’t be where they are in terms of college core accomplishments without the grant.

Gretchen Prifogle completed her college core classes and, standing in the post graduation chaos of families and students trying to find each other, she said the experience just made her even more excited about high school graduation.

“It was a lot (of work),” she said. “There were a lot of nights where I was up very late.”

Casen Lake said he put in a lot of hours to earn his Ivy Tech college core certificate.

“Endless hours and a lot of homework,” he said.

“Students put a lot of time and effort into it and they really care about doing well in the classes so they can save their family a lot of money and time,” said Lundy.

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