10 Crothersville seniors earn associate degrees



In the eighth year of the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative, Crothersville High School had 10 seniors earn associate degrees.

That ties the most from one class receiving the degree in general studies from Ivy Tech Community College, Principal Adam Robinson said.

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This year, though, the students couldn’t don caps and gowns and walk onstage to receive their diplomas. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have been closed since mid-March, so Ivy Tech did not have a traditional ceremony.

Still, the students are proud of the accomplishment of finishing with an associate degree before receiving their high school diploma, as they joined their 16 classmates in graduating from Crothersville on Friday night.

This year’s seniors completing the program are Rebekah Cook, Carson Farmer, Tori Henry, Makinzee Isley, Cami Keasler, Chase McIntosh, Zach Ortman, Briar Robinson, Charles Walters and Aaron Williams.

In the history of the program, Crothersville now has 65 students who have received degrees.

Senior Taylor Tatlock completed the Statewide Transfer General Education Core courses. He took the same courses as his 10 classmates but was short of earning enough credit hours for an associate degree.

Students at Crothersville and Austin high schools can take dual-credit courses taught by qualified high school teachers and Ivy Tech professors. They receive the degree after earning at least 60 credit hours.

The program is free for students. Crothersville pays an annual fee of about $14,000 to cover the costs of Ivy Tech professors, but the school board always has approved it because the members see the value in the program.

The program results in students spending a year or two less and saving thousands of dollars in earning a higher college degree.

This year’s Crothersville seniors began the program their sophomore year.

“It was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Farmer said. “Being able to save thousands of dollars and cut down at least two years of college made it an easy decision for me.”

All of the seniors figured out how to balance the college classes with their regular courses at Crothersville, extracurricular activities and jobs.

“I found it somewhat easy to balance high school classes, Ivy Tech classes and my extracurricular activities,” Cook said. “This was because we only had four high school classes compared to seven like we had years prior.”

Farmer said the school providing a free period or study hall allowed them to get their work done.

“Balancing early college with sports and work was not always the easiest,” he said. “Game days were the hardest because we have assignments due all the time, so on nights that I had games, I would often be staying up super late once I got home to make sure I submitted my work.”

Isley said it wasn’t always easy and there were a lot of late nights, but it was all worth it.

“Sometimes, it was difficult to balance the early college program classes and regular classes while also playing sports, but any free time I had, I worked on assignments as much as I could,” she said.

Keasler said at first, it was quite overwhelming and she knew it would be a challenge to do higher level coursework, but it became easier once she fell into a routine.

“Time management was my biggest obstacle juggling college and my regular homework, but that came pretty easy after a few weeks of starting early college,” she said.

Ortman also developed a routine.

“I would usually take time at night to work on my early college classes, and I would do regular classes during school hours,” he said. “This year, I had two study hall periods, so that helped give me some free time to do it.”

Robinson said he enrolled in the program to have a head start going into college and lighten his course load at the next level.

“The school made it really easy to do all the required classes and have extra time for baseball,” he said.

Williams said balancing all of his classes wasn’t as difficult as he anticipated.

“Once you learn to use your time wisely and not to procrastinate as much, it wasn’t bad,” he said. “On top of both high school and college classes, I had a job and played baseball my junior year. That definitely made it more difficult, but as long as I stayed aware of what was due and when, I was able to get it done.”

Now, the graduates can reflect on all of the time and effort put into earning an associate degree in high school.

“It means a lot to me to get an associate degree while in high school. I feel like I am more ready for the University of Kentucky,” Cook said.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Farmer said. “Not many high school students get this opportunity. Receiving an associate degree while in high school is pretty special. It’s really not that hard. You might have some late nights, but once it is all over, you will be glad that you took advantage of the opportunity.”

Now having two diplomas in hand is an awesome feeling, Isley said.

“It gives you a sense of relief that you’ve knocked out a bunch of classes that you won’t have to take when you attend college and two years of college are already finished,” she said. “It takes a lot of pressure off of you in the future, and it also helps the nerves go away of attending college because it prepares you for it.”

Keasler said the program allowed her to grow academically and have a foundation for her further studies.

“Those credits I earned at Ivy Tech will transfer to any Indiana state college, and that feels really good to have so much already complete before I step foot on another college campus,” she said. “I am thankful for saving so much money by attending this program. It is a real blessing to us students. I will forever be grateful for this experience.”

Ortman feels pride, too.

“I am very proud of myself for completing it and also getting pretty good grades,” he said. “Getting the associate degree will save me a lot of money in the future, and it’s a nice accomplishment.”

Robinson said it’s important for students to stick with the program.

“Don’t give up even when it starts to get difficult because it will get easier and it’s still better than doing the classes at college,” he said. “To graduate high school with an associate degree, I am able to feel more accomplished and ready for the world.”

Williams said completing the program means a lot to him and he’s grateful for the opportunity.

“I would encourage any Crothersville student to do the early college program mainly because of the impact it has on your education but also for the sense of accomplishment you feel when you graduate,” he said.

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The 10 Crothersville High School seniors recently earning an associate degree in general studies from Ivy Tech Community College shared their postsecondary plans.

Rebekah Cook: Attend University of Kentucky and major in clinical leadership and management

Carson Farmer: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus and major in business; long-term goal is to be a conservation officer

Tori Henry: Attend Auburn University and major in education

Makinzee Isley: Attend college

Cami Keasler: Attend Indiana University Southeast and study nursing

Chase McIntosh: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus and major in mechanical engineering

Zach Ortman: Attend University of Southern Indiana and major in radiology

Briar Robinson: Attend Purdue Polytechnic Columbus and major in mechanical engineering

Charles Walters: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus and major in marketing

Aaron Williams: Attend Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus and major in nursing


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