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Record-setting 28 Knox Co. students graduate with associate degrees before high school diploma

Career Magnet Academy is graduating 28 seniors with two-year college degrees before they receive their high school diplomas in the spring.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Career Magnet Academy is breaking its own record before the 2023 graduation season. Half of the school's seniors will leave 12th grade with a two-year college degree.

Brainy teens are no strangers to breaking the mold at CMA. The school's mission is to help students secure college credit while still in high school.

There's usually a handful of seniors who complete enough college credits to receive their associate degree before their high school diploma. The class of 2023, though, is setting the bar high with 28 seniors earning the distinction.

In 2022, only four seniors graduated with dual degrees.

"This is the biggest class since the start of the school," principal Dr. Charlene Lewis said.

This week, students had the opportunity to sign walls in the hallway, to show how many credit hours they have completed so far. In the whole student body, there are over 122 students who have more than three college credit hours through Pellissippi State Community College.

"We are so proud of them," Lewis said.

Tucker Riley and Ellie Arwe are two of the high-achieving star students.

The draw of taking college classes in conjunction with high school coursework comes down to the students' high-aiming attitudes.

"I think it provides great opportunities for kids who want to get ahead, whether they have a career in law or in the medical field, whatever it may be, or if it's something else, it provides a great opportunity," Riley said.

For this aspiring lawyer, the time saved is a springboard.

"I wanted to make the jump and get ahead on my college career," Riley said.

Not only are they saving time, but cash too,

"I love the free college here," Arwe said. "It definitely makes my time at UTK just a little bit less expensive."

It is an attainable way to craft a career, especially for Arwe, who is an aspiring nurse practitioner.

"Everything didn't seem like it was going to fall in place as a freshman," Arwe said. "It felt really far out of reach, but just to be able to go back and tell myself that it will work out it is going to happen."

From the staff to the students, everyone encourages growth and pushes each other to accomplish their dreams.

"I love that CMA is really a family," Arwe said. "Everybody knows everybody, pretty much."

The school hopes its wave of success continues to spread.

Career Magnet is hosting an open house on February 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the evening.

If you are interested in applying for enrollment, all area seventh and eighth graders are encouraged to stop by to learn more.


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