Getting two diplomas in four years

The first group of Accelerated Associate's Degree students graduates

DAVENPORT, Iowa - Graduating high school is a big accomplishment, but for 35 Davenport North High School graduates, it means twice as much.

That's because they got twice the degrees out of their four years of high school. 

This year, the first group of graduates from North High School's accelerated degree program graduated with their high school diplomas, and their associate's degrees. 

"These were actual college professors, actual college textbooks, actual college classes being taught in a high school," said school body president and accelerated associate's degree graduate Anthony DeSalvo. 

DeSalvo is one of the first graduates of the accelerated associate's degree program. He says it taught him a lot about college. 

As a freshman, he was supposed to go to Davenport West High School. Then he got a letter saying he'd been selected for North High School's accelerated associate's degree program. 

"So it was between sticking with what I was comfortable with or taking a leap of faith and seeing what became of it, so that's really what it came down to, and we decided to take the risk and it paid off very well in the end," DeSalvo said. 

Hunter Bell is another graduate of the program. 

She wants to become a teacher, and knocking two years off college can help her get to that goal quicker. 

"There were times when it was difficult. It definitely did show you what it was like to be at college level and taking college classes, but at the same time, it was certainly worth it," Bell said. 

And a big perk of the program: It doesn't cost students anything. 

"It was obviously two years of college that I wouldn't have to attend, and then also two years of college debt that I wouldn't have to accumulate, so all around it was a wise choice," Bell said. 

"I mean two years of college for free, you can't beat that!" DeSalvo said. 

Anthony's next step is the University of Iowa, where he'll study engineering with a full ride scholarship. 

For Hunter, she wants to become a teacher at her alma mater: North High School. 

Davenport School District officials estimate students saved more than $9,000 in tuition by taking advantage of the accelerated associate's program. 


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