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13 Carson City-Crystal seniors are earning college credits at Montcalm Community College

Carson City-Crystal dual enrolled students are, front row from left, Kaden Walker, Ashton Keiffer, Connor Royse, Cole Stone, Rivers Stewart, Kianna Newswanger and Jenna Brown; back row from left, are Gavin Gage, Cavanaugh Barker, Zane Forist, Bryce Stanley, Lyvia Halfman and Isabelle Kapustka. — Submitted by MCC

SIDNEY — Dual enrolling in classes at Montcalm Community College is helping a group of local high schoolers get ahead with their education.

Fondly referred to as “the Dirty Baker’s Dozen” by their guidance counselor, Kim Brown, 13 Carson City-Crystal seniors will graduate this year having earned an average of 15 to 20 college credits each while still in high school.

Dual enrollment at MCC allows students to take college-level courses while still in high school and receive both high school and college credit. Through dual enrollment, students can take up to 10 college classes, and their high school helps pay tuition and fees up to an approved dollar amount.

Brown and their English teacher, Erin Verwys, agreed that dual enrolling in college classes while in high school was achievable for these individuals.

“They are very academically focused,” Brown said. “They challenge me to challenge them.”

“They are talented students,” Verwys said. “I really didn’t give them an option. I mean, why not take advantage of the opportunity to earn college and high school credits at the same time and at little or no cost to them?”

Connor Royse, 16, of Fenwick, said he appreciates the experience he’s getting through dual enrollment as he pursues his dream career in psychiatry.

“The work load is not bad at all. It’s spaced differently than high school. As long as you don’t procrastinate, you can get it done. It’s a good transition going in to college,” he said. “I will already have the mindset to manage my time and space out my class work.”

Lyvia Halfman, 17, of Carson City said the opportunity “is incredible for me. Getting into college early is giving me experience in balancing my work load and college classes. It’s helping me better understand what college is going to be like.”

With plans to the US Military Academy at West Point and earn a doctorate to become a general physician or to pursue a career in psychology, 17-year-old Cole Stone of Carson City has been taking advanced level classes since middle school.

Dual enrollment has helped a lot with learning to structure time. It’s not even close to what the high school classroom is like,” he said. “There’s no more training wheels. It has been a good eye opener for me.”

Seventeen-year-old Ashton Keiffer of Carson City sees the value in fulfilling his general education requirements at the community college level, with plans to transfer to Michigan State University to pursue a degree in Forestry.

“It’s a great opportunity to earn college credits for free,” he said.

Bryce Stanley, 18, of Fenwick, who plans to transfer to Central Michigan University with the career goal of becoming a chiropractor, advises other high schoolers to “just do it. There’s no down side to earning free college credits.

“Taking college classes in high school is definitely a good transition to help you be successful at college, too,” he added.

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Brown of Carson City, whose mom is the school’s counselor, joked that “my mom roped me into it.”

She said the classes “definitely hold you to a higher standard,” and she plans to complete her general education requirements at the community college level while she considers her next steps.

Rivers Stewart, 16, of Riverdale, started taking high school classes while she was a seventh-grader. She is poised to graduate this spring with 32 college credits, which is halfway to earning an associate degree.

“Dual enrolling is probably the best decision I have ever made,” Stewart said, who aspires to earn a degree in Construction Management and one day own her own company.

Isabelle Kaputska, 16, of Carson City, has taken a variety of dual enrollment classes in English, sign language, psychology and communications.

“As challenging as it may be, you are never really alone,” Kaputska said. “I have learned to get a jump on things and manage the workload.”

Her advice to others is “There’s no harm in trying. The environment gets easier as you take more classes, and you’re earning college credits for free.”

With aspirations of a career in social work or psychology, Kianna Newswanger, 18, of Carson City, advises other students “to take advantage of the opportunity for dual enrollment. It gradually prepares you for the next step in college.”

Eighteen-year-old Zane Forist of Carson City, said he plans to transfer his dual enrollment credits to the University of Michigan, where he will pursue a degree in Sports Medicine and will participate in track and field.

“Dual enrollment classes are a little harder than high school and the class work takes a little more time,” he said, but he recommends to other high school students that they take advantage of the opportunity to get ahead on college.

For 17-year-old Kaden Walker of Carson City, dual enrollment was a logical choice.

“Why not get my credits done in high school? I’m saving a lot of money and it’s helping me with my transition to college,” he said.

Cavanaugh Barker, 18, of Sheridan, also plans to pursue a degree in sports medicine and run track at the university level.

Dual enrollment is a good program. It’s free and it gets you ahead on college,” he said.

Eighteen-year-old Gavin Gage of Carson City, is glad to be some of his general education classes as a high schooler. He plans to become an electrician and return to his family’s business.

His advice to others is simple.

“Just try it, and make sure you stay on top of your work,” he said.

For more information about MCC’s dual enrollment offerings, visit montcalm.edu/dual-enrollment, call Admissions Representative Emily Dimet at (989) 328-1245 or email emily.dimet@montcalm.edu.

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