Record number of AOC seniors to graduate with associate degrees

Academy of the Canyons graduating senior and ASB Class President Paulina Cedillo, second from right, reacts as she is named the recipient of the Principal's Award during the Academy of the Canyons 2016 Commencement ceremony held in the College of the Canyons Honor Grove in Valencia in June. Dan Watson/Signal

When seniors at Academy of the Canyons (AOC) graduate on June 3, they will be walking away with more than just their high school diplomas.

This year, a record number of seniors will also walk away with at least one associate degree (AA) from College of the Canyons (COC).

“Two thirds of the graduating class is leaving with AA degrees, which has never happened,” AOC Principal Pete Getz said.  “That is over double what has happened in the past.”

In total, 68 out of 106 seniors, or 64 percent, will graduate with one associate degree and half will graduate with multiple associate degrees from COC.  Last year only 26 percent of seniors graduated with one associate degree.

A high school within the William S. Hart Union High School District, AOC is located on COC’s campus and allows students to earn between 24 and 44 transferable college units before receiving their high school diplomas.

“Our graduating class this year is leaving with 6,805 college units completed,” Getz said.  “Comparatively speaking, last year we had students complete 5,782 units.”

Getz said the students’ associate degrees span across all potential college majors, with a majority earning degrees within programs from the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

“We have a very unique senior class so a lot of our seniors have been on our campus for four years,” Getz said.  “They have taken every advantage to take classes at the college… A lot of them really maxed out as many units they could take.”

The large jump in completed associate degrees this year could be associated with the students’ access to English 101, a general education requirement that students can now simultaneously take while enrolled in 12th grade English.

“In the past had to take that one class to get their degree,” Getz said.  “We have worked with the college and they have allowed our students to gain access to classes at the college level that they couldn’t during the normal school year.”

For many students, graduating with a completed associate degree will allow them to take upper-level classes earlier at two-year or four-year institutions.

“They’re getting through school quickly,” Getz said.  “A lot are getting through their bachelor’s degrees and getting into masters and upper degree levels early.”

Getz noted that even students who are not graduating with their associate degrees have accomplished a lot and succeed academically during their four years at the high school.

“They work so hard here.  It’s extremely rigorous and it’s such an academically-focused group of students,” he said.  “All of our graduates have done an amazing job.”

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