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Wider Horizons School students double up with diplomas, PHCC degrees



High school graduation season begins today in Hernando County with ceremonies at two private schools. And at Wider Horizons School in Spring Hill, three of the four graduates are already experienced veterans when it comes to shaking hands and accepting congratulations.

Earlier this month, they received their associate's degrees from Pasco-Hernando Community College.

While many students in Hernando's public and private high schools take advantage of the dual enrollment program at PHCC to earn college credits, few finish degrees before they attain high school graduation.

Wider Horizons co-valedictorians Sabrina Jerrels and Melissa Holgado and salutatorian Monique Barte all accomplished the feat this year.

Tackling high school and college coursework at the same time is not easy.

"I had to keep organized, and I learned a lot of responsibilities," Jerrels said. "I had to get to (PHCC) classes. Then I came (to Wider Horizons) and helped out.

"It's really exciting. I'm the youngest, and I really accomplished something."

At Wider Horizons, Jerrels explained, if students attain a level of accomplishment in math that includes geometry, calculus and trigonometry, they are offered the opportunity to enroll full time at PHCC.

"I tried it and I liked it, so I kept doing it," she said.

Holgado said receiving a college degree before a high school diploma was "a weird feeling."

As for studying on two tracks simultaneously, "It's interesting," she said.

Holgado, 18, launched her college experience with just one course when she was a sophomore in high school.

"This was a great chance, and I just jumped on it," she said. "After starting at PHCC, I quit classes at Wider Horizons. I balanced my time."

But it wasn't the end of her Wider Horizons experience.

"Like other seniors, I volunteered with fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders," she said.

She worked with the younger students in English, spelling, math and art.

Barte chose to enroll at PHCC in her junior year of high school and added to her full load of college classes this year, helping second- and third-graders at Wider Horizons with reading, math or "if they needed help with any subject."

"I had to balance my time with studying and my volunteer work," said Barte, 17. "When I knew I had a test, I would study two to three weeks before. I studied a lot, but I pulled it off."

She said she chose dual enrollment "because I knew it would save my parents a lot of money. Also, it's good to get the prerequisites out of the way. It felt really good because I knew a lot of people didn't have the opportunity."

She added: "I met people at PHCC a lot older than I am that didn't have their degrees, so I feel really grateful."

Joining the Wider Horizons graduates in commencement at 10 a.m. today will be exchange student Grace Yang of South Korea, who was enrolled at Wider Horizons for three years. Her host family has been Stephen and Heather Holop of Spring Hill.

Beth Gray may be contacted at

Private school graduations

Wider Horizons School

Commencement: 10 a.m. today at the school

Co-valedictorian: Sabrina Jerrels

• Parents: Sarah and Jasper Jerrels, Spring Hill

• College: University of Florida

• Field of study: Pharmacy

Co-valedictorian: Melissa Holgado

• Parents: Michael and Josephine Holgado, Spring Hill

• College: University of Central Florida

• Field of study: Liberal arts

Salutatorian: Monique Barte

• Parents: Neil and Virna Barte, Spring Hill

• College: University of Florida

• Field of study: nursing

Also graduating: Grace Yang

(Note: At Wider Horizons, the valedictorian and salutatorian are chosen based on several criteria, including grade-point average, volunteer efforts, activities and community service.)

Hernando Christian Academy

Commencement: 7 p.m. today at the school

Valedictorian: Heather Drummond

• Grade-point average: 3.8

• Parents: Mike and Sheila Drummond

• College: Saint Leo University

• Field of study: Biology

Salutatorian: Brittany Runion

• Grade-point average: 3.6

• Parents: Ronnie and Michelle Runion

• College: St. Leo University

• Field of study: Communications

Also graduating:

Emily Antonini

Victoria Marie Bilsborough

Thomas Joseph Buckley

Chen Yao

Sean Patrick Flannery

Briana Hogan

Hong HaiYang

Minwoo Kim

Li Bowen

Haoze Li

Li Lingfeng

Li Xiang

Yao DongLiu

Kaitlyn Beth Lowe

Rebecca Maldonado

Kaijie Qui

Darlene Simpson

Nicholas James Vosotas

Brandon Dakota Watts

Benjamin Walter West

Elizabeth Zayas

Yutong Zhao

West Hernando Christian School

Commencement: 3 p.m. June 2, Northcliffe Baptist Church, Spring Hill

Valedictorian: Joelian Mislay

• Grade-point average: 4.091

• Parents: Joel and Pacita Mislay, Spring Hill

• College: St. Louis University, Philippines

• Field of study: Orthopedic surgery

Salutatorian: Scott Cardenas

• Grade-point average: 4.037

• Parents: Tony and Dee Cardenas, Hernando Beach

• College: Keiser University, Sarasota

• Field of study: Culinary arts

Also graduating:

Brittany Anderson

David Blakemore

Nicholas Galbo

Mark Goode

Richard Kallmeyer

Thomas Milner

Joshua Peterson

Jeffrey Richter

Grant Sellers

Michelle Vosburgh

Home Circle homeschooled students

Commencement: 2 p.m. June 2, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Spring Hill

• No valedictorian and salutatorian are named


Christopher Anthony Constanza Jr.

Kelly Anna Duke

Latisha Kristen Herrera

D. Christian Kegley

John Micah McGahee

Vivian Grace Mitten

Alexander Donald Sawyer

Olivia Rae Terlep

Joshua Michael Santerelli

Spring Hill Christian Academy

Commencement: 6 p.m. June 3, Spring Hill Baptist Church, Spring Hill

Valedictorian: Angela Fiscina

• Grade-point average: 4.4

• Parents: Michael and Theresa Fiscina, Hudson

• College: University of South Florida

• Field of study: optometry

Salutatorian: Peter Lopez

• Grade-point average: 4.02

• Parents: Peter and Jenny Lopez, Spring Hill

• College: Clearwater Christian College

• Field of study: English

Also graduating:

Danielle Byrd

Darius Coronado

Shalani Kooder

Ashley Sawyer

Nazar Vykhopen

Wider Horizons School students double up with diplomas, PHCC degrees 05/24/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:19pm]
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