Bluegrass College Academy graduates first class

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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Last year, much attention was paid to an individual student that became the first to graduate out of George Rogers Clark High School with an associates degree from Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC). 

On Wednesday, May 2, the first cohort of students to do so were celebrated. 

At Winchester’s BCTC Campus on Rolling Hills Lane, a group of 15 students graduated as part of the first class from Bluegrass College Academy, which allows high school students to earn their Associates degrees before receiving their high school diploma. 

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“I’m so glad we’re here to honor the first class of the Bluegrass College Academy,”  said Bruce Manley, current campus director at BCTC’s Winchester location. “When they go in [to college], they’re going to go into their university as a junior level [student] and they’ll have two more years and then get a bachelor’s degree.” 

Of the 15 students, 12 – Leila Arzola, Karmen Bates, Olivia Benton, Kara Gates, Clayton Gough, Michaela Hubert, Rachel Miller, Ella O’Brien, Jace Patrick, McCaden Skeens, Jordan Thompson, and Maggie Zeysing – are GRC students. 

Two of the students – Naomi Harder and Callaway Murphy – attend home school. 

Certainly not least, Dalton Riddle is a senior at Estill County High School. 

Students took a variety of general education courses, including history, English, sociology, math, biology and Spanish. 

Yet that’s not all. 

“The nice part is that we had scholarships to pay for all the students’ tuition,”  Manley added. “[They get] their associates degree without having to pay for any tuition and the school system paid for their books.”

Also present for the event were a number of local luminaries, including Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed. 

“On behalf of the city of Winchester, we’re so proud of our kids,” Reed said, noting she hopes each student will consider Winchester in the future. “It’s been a pleasure to watch them grow and mature.” 

Also speaking at the event were a number of BCTC staff and local education officials, including President Dr. Greg Feeney, Vice President of Academics Dr. Wendy Bolt, Clark County Public Schools Superintendent Dustin Howard, and Estill County Superintendent Charlie Brock. 

George Rogers Clark High School counselors Christy Foudray and Kristyn Williamson were also present. 

“Being able to have the emotional stability [and] independence to get an associate’s degree before you ever walk across the high school stage, congratulations to you!,” said Howard, also addressing students. “I guarantee [that] across the state of Kentucky, they’re looking at our young people as models of what can happen when you give kids the opportunity.” 

“This is pretty impressive!” said  Feeney, mentioning that Winchester’s campus had the largest number of BGA graduates for BCTC. 

Toward the end of the event, which started with a dinner meal from Queso Times, each student was given an individual gift bag by Student Development Specialist Katie Reams with several items to celebrate their accomplishments. 

They were also given their official degree to celebrate with.

Feeney noted that he hopes it’s one of many opportunities to come. 

“We look forward to increasing our partnership with you as well”, he said.