Davenport students earn college degrees before graduating from high school

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DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Nearly 40 Davenport students have earned a college degree, and they haven't even graduated from high school yet.

Four years ago, Davenport North High School launched its Accelerated Associates program, which lets students earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree from Scott Community College at the same time.

Now, 37 students are finishing the program. They participated in their college commencement ceremony last week, while awaiting their high school graduation next month.

"They were like, 'Yeah, bring back your diploma cover for the next graduation.' I was like, 'That's so weird!'" said senior Destiny Ellingsworth.

The program is free, which is a big selling point for parents and students. Over the past four years, the students completed 62 college credit hours -- a savings of about $9,500.

"I knew that it was going to be a struggle for me to pay for my education and that I was going to have to do a lot of different routes of saving money and getting scholarships, things like that... which I still have to do, but this way it's a little bit easier," said Ellingsworth.

Ellingsworth, like many of her classmates, plans to go on to a four-year university.

They say it was tough to balance college classes with high school activities and extracurriculars, but in the end, the hard work paid off.

"I just knew that I had to really stick with it, just go through the struggles, because in the end, you have an associate's degree. So, it's really nice. It's worth it," said senior Isaiah Gibbs.

The class will celebrate its high school graduation on June 4th.