By FRED KRONER
Years of planning and preparation paid off for Jordyn Tietz.
She is one of 31 seniors (in a class of 240) at Mahomet-Seymour High School who will be graduating early. The group of early graduates will officially be done at the end of the first semester in December.
“I decided to graduate early the second I found out it was an option at the end of my eighth-grade year,” Tietz said. “I’ve never liked the social aspect of school and was more than ready to get out as quickly as possible.”
With the end goal in mind, she was able to take the necessary steps and set up her class schedule to make sure she took all of the state-mandated classes during her first three years.
“It’s really not hard to do if you want to do it,” Tietz said. “I managed to take all of the art and food classes and still completed every class that was required of me to graduate by the time my junior year was over (other than one final semester of English). So you’re able to graduate early and still take enjoyable classes.”
For Jada Moseley, the appeal was being able to more quickly move on to the next phase of her life.
“This means I can move out, start college early (at Parkland), apply for a full-time job, buy myself a car, and eventually move into my own place with a roommate or friend/relative,” Moseley said. “I am very excited, yet scared, for my ‘adult life.’ “
Moseley is carrying a demanding class load for her final semester.
“In order to graduate, I would have to take harder classes, have no study halls, and use my time even more wisely than I have in previous years,” Moseley said. “I was determined to challenge myself to go above and beyond in school and graduate early by taking classes that I considered ‘difficult.’ “
Another current senior who will be finished with high school in about three months is Miranda Shobe.
As she studied the ramifications of early graduation, she believed it offered a win-win scenario for her.
“The pros of graduating early is that obviously, it’s less time in high school,” Shobe said. “I’m not a huge fan of high school, so the less time there, the better for me.
“Also, it’s just one step faster and closer to my dreams of what I want to be in the future. I can start my next step in schooling right away to get the ball rolling faster.”
“The only real con for me is just the feeling of missing out on things and experiences from the second semester.”
Senior Sammie Anderson acknowledged it took thought and consideration before she made the decision to move forward and graduate early.
“At first, this was a difficult decision because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to miss out on the fun senior end of the year activities,” Anderson said, “but after I thought about it and looked at my pros and cons, I decided this was the right choice for me and my future.”
Students who graduate early are still permitted to participate in the school’s Winter Formal and Prom, so they can be a part of those annual spring traditions.
In bypassing her final semester of high school, Shobe is following in the footsteps of her older brother, Kaleb.
“The decision to graduate early was pretty easy to make for me,” Miranda Shobe said. “My mom brought the idea up one evening and I was leaning towards ‘yes’ as we talked more about it.
“I slept on the idea and woke up the next morning and already made the decision.
“My oldest brother, Kaleb, graduated early, so he, of course, was cheering me on as I was signing my early grad papers.”
All four teenagers who discussed their exit plans with the Mahomet Daily are backed by supportive family members, although Anderson said it took some time for her father to come around.
“My dad at first was hesitant because he really wanted me to have the full high school experience, but now that he sees I’m ready for the next step of my life, he is on board as well,” Sammie Anderson said. “My mom was very supportive of my decision and was proud of me for wanting to get a head start on my future.”
Shobe felt like there was no time like the present to look ahead.
“My mom was the one who actually was sitting down with me and said I should really consider this choice,” Miranda Shobe said. “She said she knows I’m ready to be done, and if I have the opportunity, I might as well.”
Moseley said her father and paternal grandmother were advocates of her decision.
“They both thought it was a great idea for me to move out a little early to start college and to start planning the next couple years in terms of education and doing things adults often do,” said Jada Moseley, whose father had no objections to the plan.
“I don’t see any downsides at all,” Shane Moseley said. “I think she will prepare herself for the next steps in her life.”
Jordyn Tietz said she didn’t need to resort to arm-twisting with her parents.
“I don’t really remember what their initial feedback was … but they have been supportive of my choice to graduate early,” she said.
While she gave her blessing, Tietz’s mother, Dani, acknowledged it’s a bittersweet time.
“When kids are little, you think, ‘okay, I have until the summer after her senior year to be with her,’ “ Dani Tietz said. “When she wanted to graduate early, I was a little sad because I would get less time with her.
“I know that it’s time for her to move on, though, so while I am sad that she will be leaving in January, I’m glad that there is this big world out there with lots of opportunities that will fit her.
“It was her decision. She’s in control of her life, and so I followed her lead.”
All four girls plan to immediately continue their education when the calendar turns to 2019.
“I have already applied and have been accepted to Parkland, majoring in Communications Photography,” Jada Moseley said.
Miranda Shobe will study cosmetology at Paul Mitchell The School Normal. She expects to complete her coursework in late October or early November.
Anderson is going to follow a similar career path.
In January, she will start cosmetology school at Urbana’s Tricoci University of Beauty Culture.
Jordyn Tietz is going to pursue her passion in cooking and baking.
“I am going to go to culinary school, then become a pastry chef at fancy restaurants,” she said. “Eventually I want to open a horror-themed bakery with a huge haunted house attached so I can combine my two passions of baking and spfx makeup/Halloween.”
Though Anderson, Moseley, Shobe and Tietz will officially be finished with M-S when the current semester is over, they will each make one more appearance.
All four plan to walk in the graduation ceremony next May at the Krannert Center, in Urbana.
For Jordyn Tietz, that meant honoring her mother’s one request.
She will don a cap and gown, she said, “only because my mom is making me.”
For Sammie Anderson, Jada Moseley and Miranda Shobe, it’s a farewell they are anticipating.
“That is a time that will be very special for my family and I, and I wouldn’t want to miss it,” Miranda Shobe said. “I’ve spent the past 12 years getting to the point of graduation and I want to show off that I made it.”
Jada Moseley concurred.
“I think it is a great way to transition into the ‘adult-life’ and to celebrate how far I have come with my education,” she said.
“I’m just happy she still has the opportunity to receive her diploma with the rest of her class during the ceremony,” Shane Moseley added.
Anderson said it was a given that she would participate in the closing ceremony.
“Though I am not doing a full two semesters for senior year,” she said, “walking for my diploma is very important to me because I want everyone to see my accomplishment and success.”
Shobe said the key to finishing high school after seven semesters is to think through the decision.
“It is a big decision for some people, but may just be an easy decision for others,” Miranda Shobe said. “I think it’s very important to weigh out the pros and cons.
“It’s also important to know what you want to do during the time that you would be in school, to have a plan.”
Jada Moseley encourages anyone who has considered early graduation to look into it.
“If you are thinking about graduating early and are hesitant with it, talk to your counselor and a few trusted adults to help you make the decision,” Jada Moseley said.”Never be too scared to challenge yourself.
“You never know what awesome things you are capable of doing unless you try.”
M-S principal Shannon Cheek said the number of early graduates doesn’t fluctuate much from year to year.
“The number compared to previous years is pretty consistent,” Cheek said. “I would say 20-30 is pretty typical.
“I think the option for students to graduate early will continue and I believe it provides those that need that flexibility the option.”
Parent Cheryl Mitchell wasn’t originally a person who was a believer in the benefits of early graduation.
When her son, Ben (Class of 2017), broached the topic, she was dubious.
“My first thoughts were, ‘no, that is not the way it should be,’ “ Cheryl Mitchell said. “I had in my head the ‘high school experience,’ the more traditional sense.
“And my other son (Doug, Class of 2014) loved high school and I was thinking about what Ben would miss if he left early. I was thinking about it from the social aspect at first. So I did have qualms that he would miss something and regret it later. Initially, I was not in favor.”
As the conversations continued, Mom began to see the issue from the perspective of her son.
“When I changed my ‘well, high school should be’ thoughts, and really thought about my child, it was a very easy decision to make. It was absolutely the best decision for Ben,” Cheryl Mitchell said. “I have no doubt he’s much better off for having done it this way. He planned well in advance in his junior year to be sure he met all the criteria. The plan worked very well.
“For Ben, there were no downsides to his graduating at semester. He still attended a few events in the spring, including Prom. He was still enough connected, but not in the day-to-day chaos and struggle.”
In retrospect, Cheryl Mitchell is glad that she was open-minded to her son’s request. He took early graduation in December, 2016.
“The positives were that Ben was a happier kid,” she said. “He could learn at his pace and not be around others who didn’t care about learning or doing the mundane ‘just because it’s school’ work.
“He loves learning and the school structure didn’t support his desire to understand why we’re doing this instead of just doing it for the test. He wanted purpose for his learning and school didn’t provide that. Additionally, he was a mature learner, so the ‘one size fits all’ format was not advantageous for him.”
With his bonus semester, Ben Mitchell was a full-time student at Parkland College, which eased his introduction to Eastern Kentucky University, where he is now attending.
“It helped him learn ‘college’ ahead of time and get a feel for how to study independently and run his own schedule,” Cheryl Mitchell said. “He also worked while going to Parkland.”
It was a learning experience for Cheryl Mitchell, too.
“I have two kids, one who would have never considered graduating early,” she said. “His class chemistry was very good and social, and that made a huge difference for my oldest.
“Ben’s class was very tough and the chemistry was just negative and it had been from junior high on. I believe that contributed to it.”
Ultimately, there were many other considerations.
“For a kid like Ben, who was internally disciplined and independent, the hand-holding and lack of purpose in what they were doing impeded his learning,” Cheryl Mitchell said. “It was absolutely the best decision for Ben and set him up for success.
“He even had a college professor tell him, if there was one thing that he would recommend for students coming to college, do at least one semester at a junior college so that you get a feel for how to navigate it, the studying, the loose schedule, the autonomy.
“Because Ben did that semester at Parkland, his transition to college was exceptionally easy compared to others. Ben taught me a lot in that process, too. We can get stuck in the moment of ‘aaahhhh high school,’ when it fact, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning of the next season. Some kids are ready sooner than others. Ben was one of those students.”