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Bellevue Valedictorian Also Finishing High School with Associate's Degree

By the time Madison Clark is handed her high school diploma on Friday, she will already be a college graduate.

Through the partnership between Bellevue Independent Schools and Gateway Community & Technical College, Clark earned college credits during three of her her four years of high school.

Thw 18-year old is also expected to be valedictorian of the Bellevue High School Class of 2018.

"I took the ACT when I was a freshman at Bellevue," Madison said. "I scored a 30, which people told me was good. But then (Superintendent Robb) Smith came to me and asked if I wanted to be part of the dual credit program, which they had just restarted at the high school. I said I would like that."

Traditionally, students who are sophomores and have high grades are invited to test for the dual credit program.

The dual credit program is put on by local colleges, and Gateway college offers it to many Northern Kentucky high schools. In the program, a teacher that is also qualified to teach at the college level can also offer college-level courses. Bellevue Schools pays for all dual credit classes, books, and transportation to and from Gateway.

Starting as a sophomore, Clark had completed six college classes before she was even a high school junior.

By the time high school ends, she will have completed 22 college classes, earning 64 credits, enough to be awarded an associate's degree in general education.

She attended her graduation at Gateway last Friday.

Clark will attend the University of Louisville as a sociology student, and will explore a possible double major to include psychology. She has also expressed interest in anthropology.

Her 4.54 grade point average places her at the top of Bellevue's 2018 class, but her final classes have not been factored in yet, so she expected it to tick up. On her last effort at the ACT, she scored a 32 out of 36. 

When she starts at UofL, Clark will be awarded $8,000 per year in scholarship funds for four years - even though she made need only two years at Louisville, since she is entering as a junior.

She has also been awarded $3,100 in additional scholarship funds from the Elks Lodge, the Women's City Club of Cincinnati, and Heritage Bank, and received the Good Citizen Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In addition to her classroom achievements, Clark played in the percussion section of the Bellevue marching band, plays violin, and taught violin lessons to kids at Grandview Elementary.

In her free time, Madison likes going to concerts with her friends. She like alternative music and indie bands. She also has a part-time job at Target.  

This summer Madison thinks she will be babysitting full-time, but hopes she will also have some time for hanging out with her friends.

Currently, she is working on her graduation speech that she will deliver as valedictorian in a school district that she has attended since preschool.

"Graduation is kind of sad, but mostly a good thing," she said. "I am proud of what I have done so far."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor