Students graduate early; Starting life in real world

Delaney O'Neil, Reporter

     Within the North Harford High School walls, some students are graduating with three years of high school under their belt. Graduating a year early is an option for those wanting to pursue their lives and careers a year earlier. 

     Two senior students, Tia Gay and Andi Fetter, are taking this opportunity and graduating with the class of 2022. Both of these students were originally planned to graduate with the class of 2023, but wanted to start their adult lives early.  

     After Covid hit, Gay notes “high school was not the same.” She wants to start her life early, and an extra year of high school became unnecessary. Similarly, Fetter said “the earlier I can get into college, the earlier I can work in helping people and living my life.”

     High school feels tedious and unchallenging, according to Fetter. Taking classes with the University of Maryland in firefighting, feels much more fitting for Fetter. For these reasons, starting college a year early is more appealing. 

     For those interested in taking this route in high school, reaching out to school counselors in tenth grade is necessary. Gay said “I went to Mr. Johnstone and told him what I wanted to do” and from here, Gay’s teachers were notified. 

     Fetter also notes “you must be approved by the board of education” and already have determined what classes to take in the final year of high school. Doubling up on English classes and taking courses with HCC during senior year can be expected. Students may fall short in credits when graduating early, so dual enrollment and getting credits from middle school are ways to reach graduation requirements. 

     How stressful will this kind of year be? For Gay, “It’s a bit stress inducing,” as you don’t want to fall behind in classes that are necessary to pass senior year. Although it feels like a regular year, Fetter said “I’m more stressed about proving myself as a senior.” This stress is mental, rather than physical, says Fetter. 

     For these two students, planning for life after high school includes looking at colleges and taking the SAT and ACT tests early. Fetter has looked at several colleges and is planning to apply to The Johns Hopkins University in November. 

     Due to affordability of colleges, Fetter states “I will move in with my fire department, while attending community college,” if not able to pay for college. On the other hand, Gay plans on attending Harford Community College for two years after high school and then transitioning to The University of Aiken South Carolina. Here she will work on receiving a business degree. 

     Because both students are planning on attending college, SAT and ACT tests must be completed a year earlier. Fetter has already completed her SAT on Oct. 2. and recommends taking the ACT. Fetter said the tests are “important for people like me, who have less classes underneath my belt and less teachers that can recommend me.”

     Gay has not yet taken either test, but said “I am taking the SAT and ACT this year.” Good scores on standardized tests will be important in helping college applications and proving oneself intellectually, as stated by Fetter. 

     Similarly, North Harford alumni Anna Fitzhugh graduated a year early due to her mom being promoted to colonel in the army. Fitzhugh said “we moved away during my senior year and I also wanted to pursue a career in horses.” Graduating early and having a gap year was the perfect situation for her. 

     In Fitzugh’s senior year she had to “take an extra gym credit and complete a pathway.” To finish off her high school credits Fitzugh says “I took a double block of journalism as well as English 11 and AP English 12.” She also took her gym credit with HCC and participated in weight lifting. 

     After graduation Fitzugh worked for Skyler Voss, an advanced level event rider for six months. She then attended Wilson College and eventually switched to Frederick Community College “to be near my parents’ new house, while working with my horses.”

     Now Fitzugh is located in Ocala, Florida where she is working for Olympic gold medalist Leslie Law. Here she is finishing her associate’s in business and pursuing a bachelor’s in psychology.

Senior Tia Gay graduating after three years of high school. Picture by Tia Gay.