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Seniors say goodbye early

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Seniors say goodbye early

Zachary Estell smiles at the camera outside the school.

Zachary Estell smiles at the camera outside the school.

Zachary Estell smiles at the camera outside the school.

Zachary Estell smiles at the camera outside the school.

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The majority of students look to their second semester of senior year with anticipation. Many imagine going to their senior prom and making lasting memories with their friends, but some diverge from the path of their peers and choose to graduate early.

Six seniors, including Zachary Estell, Vivian Tsai, Morgan Voeks, and Sofiya Potapchuk, have chosen to graduate this December. Compared to last year, this number has increased by four people. Students choose to graduate early for reasons such as finances and a desire to move on.

“I want to explore all my passions and interests that I really haven’t had time to do,” Tsai said.

According to USA Today, fewer than three percent of high school students graduate early nationwide, therefore, the percentage of seniors graduating early is lower than that three percent national average.

College Counselor Ms. Bellito explained that students mainly choose to graduate early because of a desire to experience something new or different instead of graduating school regularly.

“A lot of times, I just think that kids are looking for something like a change,” Ms. Bellito said. “[Graduating early] doesn’t mean necessarily that they’re not enjoying high school.”

Some students also graduate early for financial reasons, as they are able to save up money by working full time. Many choose to take general education classes at the College of Lake County for credits because of the lower price.

Assistant Principal Greg Stilling explained that the school counselor sets up a plan with the student. Typically starting the student’s junior year, the process ensures that all the senior credit requirements are fulfilled within the first semester of senior year.

Most kids who graduate early have taken three years of math and two years of science but must work to fit in a full year of English into one semester, as well as government and consumer education, which can only be taken senior year.

Zachary Estell smiles at the camera outside the school.

Zachary Estell smiles at the camera outside the school.

Zachary Estell

By taking summer school and early bird, Zachary Estell was able to accumulate enough credits to graduate early in December. Before making the decision, Estell’s counselor advised Estell to be sure he had a concrete plan for his five month break.

Along with expanding his marketing and tech companies to help pay for college, Estell plans to travel, visit his family, and gain new experiences in the time he has before college. Although he is graduating early, Estell has chosen to receive his diploma with the rest of his class in May.

Morgan Voeks smiles at the camera outside the school.

Morgan Voeks smiles at the camera outside the school.

Morgan Voeks

Morgan Voeks is also on track to graduate early, making her decision a week into this school year because she felt ready to move on

“At the beginning of the year, I was not looking forward to school everyday,” Voeks said. “Now that I only have a semester left, I’m really encouraged to try hard and work toward all my classes.”

Voeks plans to take a class at the College of Lake County and work in order to save up money to major in animal behavior at Carroll college next year.

Vivian Tsai smiles at the camera outside the school.

Vivian Tsai smiles at the camera outside the school.

Vivian Tsai

Unlike Voeks, Vivian Tsai has known she would be graduating early for almost a year now after weighing the pros and cons. She felt that she had gotten the most out of her high school experience already.

“If anything, I think that I would miss out on track. I wouldn’t be able to go through with my fourth year on the team, which is a bit sad,” Tsai said.

Along with improving her piano skills and travelling to Taiwan to visit her family, Tsai is looking into doing internships and potentially shadowing people in the law field.

Next year, Tsai hopes to attend the United States Military Academy. In the future, her goal is to serve in the military and then get into their law school to become a military lawyer.

Sofiya Potapchuk smiles at the camera outside the school.

Sofiya Potapchuk smiles at the camera outside the school.

Sofiya Potapchuk

Senior Sofiya Potapchuk is also planning to graduate in December. She hopes to attend college in Korea and needs time to work in Vernon Hills to help pay for her tuition.  

Due to a lack of connection with other students in her grade, Potapchuk asked her counselor during junior year if it was possible for her to graduate.

“Now that it’s getting closer, and it’s almost December, … I’m going to miss seeing people,” Potapchuk said.

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