Ten DHS seniors receive degrees from Florence-Darlington Technical College
After navigating years of college courses alongside their high school courses, as well as an international pandemic that brought their daily lives to a halt, 10 Darlington High School (DHS) seniors received two-year college degrees May 13 from Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC). These students now have their college degrees a month before DHS Principal Cortney Gehrke will confer their high school diplomas. “Not only did these 10 graduates overcome the pandemic interrupting their normal high school classes, but they persevered through their college courses as well,” Gehrke said. “These students are a shining example of perseverance, and we are so proud of their success.” The students each received either an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science from FDTC during a commencement ceremony at the Florence Center. The graduates are: ● Jayla Eden Back, Associate of Arts ● Tanner Grace Berry, Associate of Arts ● Kimberlee Madisyn Britt, Associate of Arts ● Areyana Nicole Henry, Associate of Arts ● Dana Makayla Joe, Associate of Arts ● Jaimesha Alise McKenzie, Associate of Arts ● Jalyse Mo’Nae Harrell, Associate of Science ● Tanner Brooks King, Associate of Science ● Mckayla Leigh Miller, Associate of Science ● Darian Braxton Smith, Associate of Science Most of these students began taking their college courses during the spring semester of the freshman year, according to Debra Wallace, an English teacher and the Early College Honors Program coordinator at DHS. “They have quite literally been in college for four years,” Wallace said. “Some of these students even chose to take two classes this past summer in order to get ahead and not have such an arduous senior year.” Making the journey toward an early college degree even tougher, the students took nearly half of their college courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. They took courses both through FDTC and Francis Marion University. Additionally, the students have continued participating on a variety of athletic teams and school clubs while also completing numerous community service hours and holding part-time jobs. Two of the degree earners, Jaimesha McKenzie and Darian Smith, also became completers at the Darlington County Institute of Technology. McKenzie passed her certified nursing aide exam and became a Health Science completer. Smith became an Automotive Technology completer and earned his S/P2 Auto Technology Certification and his ASE Maintenance and Light Repair certification. All 10 of the students have chosen to continue their academic careers at colleges and universities following high school graduation. This group of Early College Honor Program graduates marks the sixth such class from DHS.