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61 from Las Vegas Valley collect high school and college diplomas

Unlike most high-school graduates, Dominic Calicdan received two degrees after crossing the stage on Thursday.

He was one of 61 College of Southern Nevada High School graduates who earned both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree this year, balancing high-school courses with college classes while also maintaining a job.

It was tough, Calicdan said, but he found it all worked out if he managed his schedule.

“I think I had an amazing experience,” he said, reflecting on his time in the program.

The school, which has campuses at each one of the three main CSN campuses in Henderson, North Las Vegas and off of West Charleston, is open to juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate on time.

The Clark County School District pays for up to 12 CSN credits each semester — over the course of two years, that’s 48 of the 60 needed for an associate’s degree.

For Calicdan, that meant taking high-school courses three times a week while also knocking out courses toward his associate’s degree in science.

That included general, college-level courses and 13 credits of science — he was particularly fond of Biology 197, where he said he inspected small sea creatures and animals he’d never seen before.

“We would do so many dissections that you wouldn’t get to do at a normal high school,” he said.

Now the first-generation college student is heading to Carleton College in Minnesota with a full-ride scholarship. He’s starting with 30 credits counting toward his bachelor’s degree, which he anticipates will be in a pre-medical science field.

The 61 dual graduates is the most produced in a year by the CSN high school program, which also expects graduation rates of 100 percent.

And though not all graduates earn enough credits to complete an associate’s degree, they’re still graduating with credits that give them a leg up in pursuit of higher education.

“Four years ago, I doubt that any of us imagined that we’d be graduating high school with two years of college education,” said Robert Donoghue, Jr., a valedictorian of the West Charleston campus, told his peers at the graduation ceremony at the Orleans. “It almost seems like an oxymoron, but it’s true. You’ve all accomplished the dream of countless high schoolers —and it is only the beginning of your lives.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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