River Road ISD latest district to join AC's Diplomas and Degrees program


By Joe Wyatt

River Road Independent School District and Amarillo College are pleased to announce a joint celebration of the Diplomas and Degrees partnership that has already placed 15 River Road students on the path to associate degrees at AC.

The celebration will commence with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 26 in the library at River Road High School, 101 W. Mobley St.

Some River Road alumni, school board members, and those scholars already in the Diplomas and Degrees pipeline will be on hand when AC President Russell Lowery-Hart and River Road ISD Superintendent Richard Kelley sign the MOU.

“The robust association between River Road ISD and Amarillo College is vital for our community and truly gratifying for all of us who are concerned with student success,” Lowery-Hart said.

“This cements our fabulous relationship all the more. We are honored as a College to help River Road celebrate the enormous opportunities presented now and in the future by the Diplomas and Degrees program.”

AC launched Diplomas and Degrees in 2009 to enable top-performing students in AC’s Dual Credit network to begin working toward associate degrees as high school freshmen. Successful graduates sometimes begin their university careers as full juniors.

However, schools or school districts in the Dual Credit network must formally opt in as partners of the AC initiative before students may apply to take part in it.

Conversations were initiated in 2016 to include River Road ISD in the program. Administrators at the College and the School District spent more than a year developing an iteration of the program tailored to River Road’s particular framework.

Fifteen Dual Credit scholars were approved to pilot the program last fall at River Road. All now are reportedly enjoying success midway through their second Diplomas and Degrees semester.

Approximately 40 of the 60 credit hours needed to graduate from AC are offered through the Dual Credit Program. Mainstream college courses, primarily electives, comprise the remaining hours needed for high school students to obtain a degree, and those are completed predominantly during summers at AC.

“We are extremely pleased to celebrate the fruition of everyone’s efforts to blend the unique needs of River Road ISD with the challenging requirements of Diplomas and Degrees,” said Jason Norman, AC’s director of P-16 career pathways advisement and co-director of dual credit.

“These students will graduate from college faster, start their careers sooner and do so at considerable savings,” Norman said. “The cost of dual credit courses is as affordable as it gets – $50 a credit hour – and since they are still in high school, families may be saving on two years of room and board, too.

“But the time saved is probably paramount,” he said. “You really cannot accurately place a value on a young person’s time.”

AC has previously signed similar MOUs with Ascension Academy, Amarillo Collegiate Academy, Amarillo ISD, Canyon ISD, Bushland, and Highland Park schools.

For more information about the celebration on April 26 at River Road High School, please contact King Hill at (806) 680-7720.

To learn more about AC’s Dual Credit program, including Diplomas and Degrees, please contact Jason Norman, co-director, at (806) 371-5214.

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