For the last 10 days or so, Greenfield High School juniors, sophomores and freshmen have been registering for courses for the 2013-14 school year.
Some are picking classes based on likes and interest, while others are seriously planning for their futures after high school.
But for one student, 16-year-old Dana Oschmann, this week’s registration process has been a breeze. That’s because she didn’t have to participate.
Oschmann, a junior by age – she turns 17 on Feb. 25 – but senior in status, is on track to graduate a full year early. Her request to graduate after just six semesters instead of the customary eight was approved by the Greenfield School Board in January.
“I’ve always been very school-driven and goal-driven,” Oschmann said. “I love school. I wouldn’t have minded staying another year or half a year, but my goal has always been to go to college and start planning my career.
“Throughout my high school career, I really planned things out and made sure I did everything I could and challenged myself.”
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By the end of this semester, Oschmann will be one credit in English shy of having enough credits to graduate. She plans to earn that credit by taking two summer classes, something she’s done previously. Before her freshman year, she took a half-credit health class, and after her freshman year, she took both economics and physical education during the summer months.
Summer school pays off
The time spent in summer school, and her lack of a study hall until this semester, allowed Oschmann to cram as many as seven credits into each school year. And it’s not as if she’s just skating along with easy classes. The student with a 3.2 GPA is currently enrolled in AP Chemistry and AP Language
“I commend Dana for taking on the responsibility of a heavy course load each semester; it takes a diligent and determined student to complete the requirements for graduation in only three years, not to mention the fact that many of her classes were at AP and Honors level,” said Dan Manley, English teacher and department chair. “Because of her drive and her desire to begin this new journey, she is prepared for the increased workload she will encounter in college.”
Early graduation has become a trend in some districts, particularly those who rely on block scheduling. But in Greenfield, a six-semester graduate comes along once every five years or so, according to high school principal Paul Thusius, who said the high school had one six-semester graduate last year as well.
Manley said it’s rare for a reason.
“Graduating early from high school is not typical of most students; many need the academic and social growth that a four-year high school education offers,” Manley said. “For those who take the extra step of completing high school a semester or even a year early, they certainly deserve the opportunity to begin the more specialized focus of study that college offers.”
A future teacher?
Oschmann said her maturity compliments her decision to leave early, and that it’s not for everyone. She said knowing what she wanted to pursue in college was an important factor in her early graduation push. Originally interested in being a doctor, Oschmann now has aspirations of becoming a middle school Spanish teacher.
“My view of a teacher isn’t how it is with all the political stuff that’s going on now,” she said. “I love working with kids. I love the impact I have on kids. I know I’m a good role model. I definitely like the personal relationship aspect of being a teacher and being there for kids.”
Oschmann has not yet been accepted to a college or university because she took the ACT just a few weeks ago. Assuming she is accepted, she has her sights set on two state universities: the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay.
She understands while she’s walking from class to class on a college campus next fall, her friends and classmates will be roaming the hallways of Greenfield High School. If she misses anything about high school, she expects it will be the feelings of “being seniors” she would have shared with friends.
She also does not anticipate ever walking across a high school stage during a commencement ceremony. She won’t do it this summer because she wouldn’t be celebrating the moment with the students she grew up with, and next summer, when those classmates make their final march through the school, Oschmann will have already completed her first year in college.
But for now, she has no regrets.
“I felt like I knew what I wanted to do and wanted to get on with it,” Oschmann said. “I have really big aspirations for my career and moving forward. … I look forward to my classes and learning more about teaching.”