High school students graduate from 'Early College Academy'

Special to the Gazette
2021 graduates of Butler's Early College Academy program have earned their high school diploma and associate degree simultaneously

There are many great reasons for a high school student to enroll in Butler’s Early College Academy.   For Andover student Jared McDavitt, the primary motivator was the ability to focus his education on his future career path.   

McDavitt said, “Entering into the Academy allowed for me to pursue and improve on my education more selectively and strive for intellectual growth in areas I wanted to focus on – particularly in the health field.”  

The program has helped McDavitt solidify his future career goals as an emergency medicine physician, while getting a jumpstart on the premed route.   

“My experience with the Butler program has definitely been an overall benefit to not only my educational career, but also my job insight, as well.  Being able to learn in class, shadow, and be exposed to applicable information has done wonders in affirming my life goals.  Furthermore, I was able to meet many professors who were able to give their own insights and had experience in our interests.  This made the program more than just a government-subsidized program, but a mentoring opportunity, as well.” 

McDavitt also values the bonds he formed through the Academy.   

“Studying with like-minded cohort members gave a sense of respect and trust that no high school can replicate, and I will value it forever,” he stated.  

On Saturday, May 8, administration, faculty, staff and students gathered to celebrate the hard work and remarkable achievement of Jared and the 94 other high school seniors who are graduating the Academy with their associate degree in 10 different fields.  Board of Trustees member Mary Martha Good addressed the crowd first, acknowledging the late nights and long hours the students had put in. 

“Your tenacity is remarkable, your vision is enviable, and your ability to achieve is outstanding,” said Good. 

Butler President Dr. Kim Krull spoke next.  In addition to applauding the students on their unique accomplishment attained while dealing with the COVID pandemic, Dr. Krull also pointed out the huge cost savings for the students compared to two years’ average expense at a 4-year public institution in Kansas.   

 “This collective group of 95 graduates from our Early College Academy, over the last two years, has saved over $1.5 million in educational costs, and that is huge,” said Krull. 

There was a consistent theme woven throughout the speeches of the students who addressed the crowd – that while the task at times seemed overwhelming, the caring and guidance of the faculty and staff as well as the support of their fellow cohorts made their achievements possible.   

Rose Hill Academy student Leilani Briggs spoke of her struggle with time management, resulting in plummeting grades and motivation.  She attributed the aid of her counselor, Miss Hoefer and math instructor, Professor Fiscus with helping her turn her life and grades around.   

“With this, I became a straight-A student with the drive to continue going to college for marketing and business,” Briggs attested.   

Andover Academy student Tim Franks remarked, “Today I’m a different person than the school-oriented individual who joined Butler two years ago.  My time at Butler has taught me much more than business, it has helped me connect with people.”  

Kayleigh Bruce, a student in the Culinary Pathway program, emphasized the power of these connections.  Said Bruce, “We grew, and we grew together.  We learned about teamwork and how to never leave anybody behind.”  

Professor Bruce Fiscus spoke on behalf of the faculty and encouraged the students to continue to step out of their comfort zones:  “I never would have found my passion for teaching without stepping outside of my comfort zone.  By pushing yourself, you will continue your journey as lifelong learners, and through that, you will continue to grow.”   

After sharing some advice from the faculty, Professor Fiscus left the students with one final challenge:   “Five years from now, take the time to go back and thank one or more of the people that have been a positive influence in your 20+ year journey.  It doesn’t matter whether you are already into your career, still in school or trying to find your way, it’s always good to reflect on the positive things and people that have crossed your path.” 

Area 2021 Early College Academy graduates are listed below: 

Andover 

Mariam Alky- Andover eCademy (Health Science Pathway) 

Taylor Bessent- Circle High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Tim Franks- Home School (Business Pathway) 

Annabelle Hardy- Andover eCademy (Aviation Pathway) 

Katelyn Hedger- Andover Central High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Abigayle Jackson- Andover Central High School (Humanities Pathway) 

Ryli Nguyen- Andover High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Madalyn Rodehorst- Andover Central High School (Humanities Pathway) 

Olivia Rozario- Andover Central High School (Humanities Pathway) 

Augusta  

Sarai Alvarado- Augusta High School (Humanities Pathway) 

Kayleigh Bruce- Bluestem High School (Culinary Arts Pathway)  

Nolan Bryan-Augusta High School (Engineering Pathway) 

Lillianne Gash- Douglass High School (Business Pathway) 

Tiffany Hilton-Augusta High School (Education Pathway) 

Trenton Parsons- Augusta High School (Engineering Pathway) 

Robert Schoenthaler- Circle High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Hallie Sims- Andover eCademy (Health Science Pathway) 

Austin Taylor- Circle High School (Welding Pathway) 

Douglass  

David Arevalo- Douglass High School (Business Pathway) 

Savannah Edmonds- Douglass High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Hunter Glaves- Douglass High School (Engineering Pathway) 

Kiahna Jones- Douglass High School (Business Pathway) 

Emily Norton- Douglass High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Dylan West- Douglass High School (Health Science Pathway) 

El Dorado  

Lakin Adlesperger-Circle High School (Humanities Pathway)  

Chance Burks- El Dorado High School (Welding Pathway)  

Maggie Chen- Circle High School (Business Pathway) 

Alex Craig- El Dorado High School (Humanities Pathway) 

Daisee Kohman- El Dorado High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Lauren Shryock- Circle High School (Health Science Pathway)  

Dez Stitt- El Dorado High School (Welding Pathway)  

Koree Ta- Circle High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Cyan Trujillo- El Dorado High School (Culinary Arts Pathway) 

Rose Hill  

Abby Alderson- Derby High School (Health Science Pathway) 

Emily Boyle- Rose Hill High School (Humanities Pathway) 

Aislin Burnison- Rose Hill High School (Humanities Pathway) 

Nataile Eaton- Rose Hill High School (Engineering Pathway) 

Ty Foster- Rose Hill High School (Game and Simulation Pathway)