Trend or outlier? Seniors graduate early, explore unorthodox options

Early graduate Jacey Vickrey participates in a fashion show at the Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School in January. courtesy of JACEY VICKREY

BY JULIA SUDOL

Jacey Vickrey didn’t graduate Carmel High early to join the workforce or travel far and wide—she left high school in order to enroll in cosmetology school.

 

“I was very over high school and wanted to get on with my life,” Vickrey says. “I hated walking into school and being very unhappy every day, especially when I knew what I wanted to do.”

 

So when 2018’s first semester ended, Vickrey packed her things and moved to San Jose, where she began an esthetics program at Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School, studying everything from makeup application to skincare to waxing.

 

Vickrey is just one of seven seniors who decided to graduate following the first semester, something previously uncommon at CHS. A number of additional seniors considered the possibility, but stayed in school for one reason or another.

 

“In past years, we’ve had one [senior graduate early] or none at all,” academic counselor Alison Francis says.

 

A common reason for avoiding the plague of senioritis is to enter what parents and teachers call the “real world,” whether that be travelling, working, or a little bit of both.

 

After completing her first year of high school and hating it, former senior Kimiya Yavari decided to graduate early and planned her schedule accordingly for five semesters, taking Advanced Placement and Monterey Peninsula College courses.

 

“The main reason I decided to graduate early is because I love learning,” Yavari says. “I took several classes that seemed relevant in the moment, but when I look back, I see how little it contributed to my overall educational experience.”

 

Yavari is now enrolled in an anatomy and psychology class at MPC which, unlike the classes offered at CHS, allow her to earn college credit. She’s also working four to five days a week at two Carmel restaurants, Dametra and Portabella, and has increased her volunteer hours at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.

 

“I’m actually fulfilling all of the hours in my day and working toward my desired future,” Yavari says.

 

Twins Maisy and Madison Bockus, who also decided to skip out on second semester, have a more exotic plan. Maisy flew to Seville, Spain on Jan. 17, through a program run by the Council on International Educational Exchange. She will live with a host family till April, strengthening her Spanish while taking classes at a local language institute. Madison will be making a trip to South America on Feb. 12 to the Patagonia regions of Chile for two months, where she’ll be working with children, and Cuba for a month, where she’ll be shadowing doctors.

 

“We decided to graduate early in order to supplement an amazing education at CHS with a very different education by independently traveling the world,” Madison says. “It is very different things to raise money, train and plan for your own trip than to vacation with your family, and I feel as if, even before departing, I have learned quite a few valuable lessons along the way.”

 

(The twins have created a blog aimed to document their adventures abroad that can be viewed at bockustwins.blogspot.com.)

 

Although finishing high school early seems blissful, all of these students had to take on an extra load (or two) to do so. Because Yavari knew after freshman year that she wanted to graduate early, she enrolled in an MPC class as a junior in order to acquire the credits needed to graduate. Vickrey, on the other hand, didn’t decide till junior year, and thus forced herself to take an eight-class load last semester.

 

Natalie Lobo considered graduating early all too late, and although she’s accumulated more than 30 credits from MPC through her dance productions, she was unable to transfer them smoothly, forcing her to follow through with a second semester at CHS.

 

“I feel like the classes for senior year have a lot of busy work incorporated in them,” Lobo says. “The homework is a lot of memorization and things I just learn and dump.”

 

Lobo says she still wishes she could focus more on dance, something she already does five to six hours a day, and take classes at MPC that interest her instead of the five classes she currently takes at CHS.

 

Marc Del Toro also considered graduating early, but decided to stick around Carmel High, not because of a problem with credits, but because of his involvement in photography and the CHS mock trial team. Del Toro credits Photography teacher Holly Lederle, who provides him with materials and access to CHS’ dark room, as a strong reason for why he stayed.

 

“My goal is to become a photographer, so all of this helps out my photography more than leaving would have,” Del Toro says.

 

After participating in the Empire New York Mock Trial Tournament and getting involved with the next case, Del Toro felt an obligation to stick with the team.

 

“We have our competition soon, so that’s going to be exciting, and I’m glad I stayed to finish that,” Del Toro adds.

 

Graduating early seems to be an attractive option for students who want to travel or begin training in a specific field whether they plan to attend college or not.

 

Francis speculates, “Maybe [graduating early] becomes more popular as juniors see some of the seniors do this, and they might want to seek out opportunities like that.”