High school students earning college degrees ahead of schedule

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — High School students in Peoria are taking advantage of a new program.

The D2 program is welcoming its second cohort of students in 2020-2021. Peoria Public Schools and Illinois Central College are partnering to help students earn an Associate of Arts Degree and diploma simultaneously.

Alijah Smith, a Peoria High School junior, is one student already working hard to complete his college degree.

It feels unreal I guess I’m still in shock as well.

Alijah Smith, Peoria High School, Illinois Central College, Student

Smith said his education is very important to him, noting that others are not afforded the same opportunities.

“Learning is just fun for me and the more knowledge you have the more power you have,” Smith said.

Students entering their junior year in high school are eligible to enroll in the program at no cost to families.

When it is time to walk across the stage for graduation they will receive both their high school diploma and Associate Degree.

Smith’s mother, Brynn Haynes said she is proud of her son’s efforts toward broadening his horizons.

“It’s a great opportunity at a young age to have the chance to further your education,” Haynes said.

Although Smith does not know exactly what the future holds, he is confident that his degree will take him far.

“This can definitely push me further in any career that I decide to go [in] to this will look good,” Smith said.

Smith’s mother is still in shock and recommends other students join this program as well.

I never thought and still kind of blown away like I said it’s hard to believe that he even is and when I tell people they’re like what how old is he?

Brynn Haynes, Alijah Smith’s Mother

Students who attend classes at ICC North will have access to free transportation. Upon finishing classes they will return to their high school for extracurricular activities, part-time jobs or other responsibilities.

If you are a parent interested in the program and want more information you can attend an informational meeting at Richwoods High School Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

The make-up date is Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. inside the Peoria Public Schools district administration building.

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