Record-setting number of Global High students graduate at Navarro College
By Shelly Conlon, Daily Light Digital News Editor
Posted: Saturday, May 30, 2015 4:21 pm | Updated: 4:24 pm, Sat May 30, 2015.
With one week left before they graduate high school, 83 Global High School students already have their associate degrees from Navarro College.
That’s right, 83 of 93 Global High seniors have already graduated from college, and that’s the most graduates from the Early College/ STEM high school so far. The number is 11 more than last year, and the number is only expected to keep increasing each year said principal Donald Snook, who has been there since the campus opened as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school in 2007 and an Early College High School in 2009-2010. The new college grads received their degrees on May 16, and the number has been another record high for the campus.
“We are extremely proud of the 83 students that are graduating from Waxahachie Global High School with an associate’s degree. It is incredible to think that these students received their associate’s degree three weeks before they obtain a high school diploma,” superintendent Jeremy Glenn said. “Recently, GHS was named a top high school by U.S. News and World Report for a second straight year. We are proud of these students and their teachers and look forward to growing and expanding opportunities for all students in the coming years.”
That increase is driven by the fact that the students know what the expectations are, and that expectation level is different than what they may be used to, Snook said.
“We’re trying to compress six years of their education into four,” Snook said. “It’s not a certificate of completion, they’re actually working very hard to get their degrees. There are several classes they have to take that are not offered at the high school level, so they have to take it after school and Government is one of those classes and so is Speech. So their after school activities are based on academics, but we have all sorts of extracurricular activities as well.”
As an Early College High School, students may take more than the six college credit hours a semester through UT-Tyler and Navarro, which is typically offered to a college student each semester. The college is free to students and tuition is waived by Navarro College and by UT-Tyler. Because of this, Global High is currently the only high school in the country with a dual credit computer science for majors sequence of courses offered by a four-year university, according to a previous Daily Light article.
“Navarro had almost 400 students graduating and 84 of them were WISD students, and when they asked for the dual credit students to stand up and looking at about 20 percent of them being from WISD—that was awesome,” Snook said. “I was in the audience, and it was one of the few times where I can just sit back and relax and watch what’s going on. I think it finally gets to them as they walk across the stage that they’re getting their college degree. It’s one thing to say before that you’re getting your college degree and your high school degree at the same time, but when they walk across the stage and realize, ‘Hey, I am two years ahead of all my friends,’ it starts to set in.”
For some of this year’s students, college wasn’t an option, but because of the partnership with Navarro and UT-Tyler, the stories of those who have changed the course of their lives never get old, Snook said.
“We have a lot of students that want to come here next year, and I love that we’re expanding and that we have students who want something different,” he said. “As an educator, what I’ve noticed is when you don’t put a restriction on a kid, and as adults, sometimes we keep them down. But if you remove those restrictions, they blossom and they can do amazing things.”
In three years, Global High is expected to move to the current Waxahachie High School campus off of N. U.S. Highway 77, to provide more space for project-based learning and enrollment growth. The decision was voted on by community members as part of a $125 million bond that passed on May 9.
“With Global High, it’s a small learning community, but the thing that makes it special is the fact that all the students and the teachers want the same thing,” Snook said. “Not to say that there isn’t that in other schools, because there is definitely that feeling in Waxahachie High School. But ours is focused on academics, so we do one thing and we do it well. So, I don’t think it’s going to change a whole lot. If we have 600 kids, we’re going to have 600 kids that are going to be they’re pushing and challenging themselves, and are academically focused.”
Next year, the number of students in the senior class expected to also expected to get their associate degrees will increase by another 10, Snook said. Right now, about 100 juniors will be seniors next year, and about 92-93 students are on track to graduate from Navarro as well. The first year, 56 seniors graduated with a college degree. Last year, 73 seniors out of 95 graduated with an associate degree.
“It’s grown and success is the best thing we have going for us,” Snook said. “With our name getting out there about what we offer and the success of the students, there are more students and they understand this is a different place than maybe what they’re used to. Of course, parents love for their children to come, but the kid has to buy in.”
The new college grads will join the rest of their peers for high school graduation at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Southwestern Assemblies of God University Sheaffer Full Life Center, located at 1200 Sycamore St.