Morenci student to earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree
MORENCI – Drake Eichler is not your typical high school student.
Although he is technically in the Class of 2021, as he walked to graduation this year, he completed his high school classes and credits two years ago and has been working to earn a diploma since then. ‘associate. He will receive this diploma next year, making him part of the 2022 class.
Eichler takes his university courses at Morenci Branch Campus Middle College, where students can take courses at Jackson College, Siena Heights University, or Adrian College. This program allows students to graduate from high school and receive an associate’s degree in five years, with the school district covering the costs. Currently, Eichler has 51 college credits and will earn even more next year. Morenci Superintendent Mike McAran said Eichler will likely have around 70 credits by the time he graduates, but the only course he needs to take is a math class or math equivalent.
Eichler plans to attend Alma College in the fall of 2022 for nursing. He would like to specialize in emergency care or general nursing. Since he will be getting his associate degree from Jackson College, he should only have to attend Alma College for two years to earn his bachelor’s degree, which will save him time and money, which is l ‘one of the main reasons he would recommend the college route.
“If they’re willing to put in the time and effort, yes. Why? Because these are free college courses that you or your parents don’t have to pay for, and you can potentially graduate without paying, ”Eichler said.
He began his journey to become a nurse when he took courses at the Lenawee Intermediate School District Tech Center, which allowed him to take nursing courses to prepare him for the tests to become a certified nursing assistant. He passed these tests and became licensed and now works at Oasis of Adrian as a CNA. He recently started there and his responsibilities are to take care of the residents, their safety and their activities of daily living. In addition to taking high school and college classes, he also worked as a floor manager at McDonald’s.
Being both a high school and college student brought many challenges, but also lessons and learning experiences.
“The biggest lesson would be not to take everything to heart. This is just a course and it will be over soon… not everyone is your friend, but you have to get along with everyone to achieve your common goal, ”said Eichler.
There are three more students this year, as well as Eichler, who is part of Morenci Branch Campus Middle College, and more are expected to start the program in the coming years. The program began in 2017, when four schools in Lenawee County asked the state of Michigan to establish secondary colleges. The state accepted the application in spring 2018, when Morenci students could register if they were interested.
To introduce the program to students, the school sends a letter to eighth graders, informing them of the program and inviting them to come to a general meeting with their parents. From there they are given more information and can then decide to apply. The app includes essays, letters of recommendation, a variety of questions, and an interview. It is important that they are mature enough to be students. McAran said they look at things like they have goals, if they get along well with others and their grades, among other criteria.
“You have to make kids want to do something with their lives,” McAran said.
Eichler will be one of the first students to complete the program.
“It makes you feel really good. We started out by really trying to sell it and get people to do it because there are quite a few kids out there that can’t afford – parents don’t know how to get them to afford to go to. college – so that gives them an opportunity to go to college, ”McAran said. “Basically a lot of it gets paid, but it gives an opening for a kid if he takes it, and that’s what makes you feel really good about what Drake has done.” …
“Drake did what he did and he came to talk to the eighth and ninth graders who came to see me. I think there were about 20 families out of a possible maybe 90 that could be there. . Six people applied, and I have two back. So that really inspired some kids to do things that they weren’t doing before. “
Eichler’s mother, Gwenda Eichler, works for the school, so she had heard of Morenci Branch Campus Middle College before Drake attended. However, it was Drake’s idea to do it, after seeing his brother take college classes in high school.
“Everything is a learning experience, and it was the learning experience that interested him, and we just encouraged it,” said Gwenda. “We just backed him up and let him go at his own pace.”
“It’s amazing to see him grow into an adult. … He is more independent, more mature, his confidence has increased, he takes on tasks for himself, he doesn’t want to be told to do something, ”she said.