Windsor Charter Academy Early College High School celebrates first graduating class | MyWindsorNow.com

Windsor Charter Academy Early College High School celebrates first graduating class

Emily Wenger
ewenger@greeleytribune.com
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The first class to graduate from Windsor Charter Academy Early College High School walks to the school gym Thursday night for the graduation ceremony, led by Justin Rice, left, who is followed closely by Joanna Shoemate. (Emily Wenger/ewenger@greeleytribune.com)

Early College

Greeley-Evans District 6 will also celebrate the graduation of its first Early College Academy class at 10 a.m. Saturday, ECA, 5590 West 11th St., Greeley.

Windsor Charter Academy staff and board members giggled with students as the staff at the front of the line started walking into the school gym before "Pomp and Circumstance" began playing Thursday night.

They quickly returned, and waited for the band to begin playing the song they were waiting for. They were just excited, they said, because Thursday night was the first high school graduation ceremony in Windsor Charter Academy Early College High School's history.

The school opened its high school doors to freshmen and sophomores in 2015, so its first graduating class is small, said Rebecca Teeples, executive director for the Windsor Charter Academy elementary, middle and high schools.

Next year's class is expected to be comprised of 38 students, and it's going to keep growing, Teeples said, as class sizes move up toward the school's goal of about 100 students per grade level.

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Students in the first class to graduate Windsor Charter Academy Early College High School wait to receive their diplomas Thursday night. (Emily Wenger/ewenger@greeleytribune.com)

Another goal of the school is to help students obtain their associate degrees at the same time as their high school diplomas. This year, four of the graduating seniors received their associate degrees from Aims Community College last week.

Now, Teeples said, they can enter college with two years completed.

Joanna Shoemate, one of the graduates who obtained her associate degree through the school and salutatorian of the class, said the program is especially beneficial for those who may not be able to pay for a full four years of college.

Because the charter school is free, Teeples said students were given thousands of dollars of free college credits.

Students also get to spend time at the Aims campus their senior year, as well as at the Windsor Charter Academy high school. The school hopes that will help them be more prepared for what life will be like as a college student, Teeples said.

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Joanna Shoemate’s graduation cap, left, reads “The adventure begins.” She and other seniors at Windsor Charter Academy Early College High School were the first to graduate from the school Thursday night. (Emily Wenger/ewenger@greeleytribune.com)

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Sara Chandler, who also obtained her associate degree, and Skylar Ryan, valedictorian, said although they got a taste of what college will be like, they're grateful for the extra support they were given through the high school, and for the opportunity to still have their high school experience while getting ahead for college.

Although many public schools offer advanced placement courses, with a test at the end of the course, the charter academy college credits are based on the entire two-semester classes, and are guaranteed to transfer to any college in Colorado.

Jeremy Schriner, secondary education director at the school, likened the students to pioneers throughout history during his speech Thursday, because they are the first class to have successfully completed the program.

Ryan encouraged all of her classmates to look to their futures and remember their time together.

"This is just the beginning of a lifetime of memories," she said.

— Emily Wenger covers the town of Windsor and Greeley events for The Tribune. You can reach her at (970) 392-4468 or ewenger@greeleytribune.com.