AMESBURY — Amesbury High School senior Thomasina Glenn is about to graduate college before she matriculates from high school.
A three-year participant in Amesbury High’s Early College program, the 17-year-old will graduate from Northern Essex Community College with an associate degree May 19 — the day after her prom — before receiving her high school diploma June 1.
“If I didn’t feel like I was doing enough work in high school, I would make it up with more college work,” Glenn said.
Glenn, a Michigan native, moved to Amesbury in second grade and started taking online college courses at NECC when she was a freshman in high school.
“I took interpersonal communication in my freshman year and then I took psychology,” Glenn said.
The Early College program gives sophomores, juniors and seniors the opportunity to take NECC courses for college credit at the high school. Students can also attend classes at NECC’s Haverhill campus.
Although Glenn, the daughter of NECC President Lane Glenn, may have had some insider knowledge when it came to navigating the college’s admissions process, she took the opportunity to enter the Early College program in her sophomore year, all while taking additional online classes and building a career as a musician.
“I know there are a lot of students in high school who don’t always have the same access to resources which will tell them how they can get through college in an affordable way,” Glenn said. “But I’ve always worked hard on academics, ever since I was young and I always push myself.”
Accumulating high school and college credits at a rapid pace, Glenn would be able to enter the high school’s pass program in her final semester. The program allows students to either work or take college classes during school hours if they have earned enough credits.
The 17-year-old has taken the opportunity to attend a pair of classes at NECC as well as take two online classes, all while attending electives such as art and musical theater at the high school.
“This way, I get to take the classes I really like and enjoy,” Glenn said. “And I don’t lose touch with anyone.”
Keeping in touch with her Amesbury friends may become more difficult for Glenn, who will be headed to Northern Vermont University in the fall as a junior majoring in music business. Glenn also plans to earn a master’s degree.
“I’m really focusing on how the music business works now,” Glenn said. “Because I have focused on musicianship so far and I really need to learn how to do that so I can make a living.”
An accomplished musician, Glenn plays the guitar, piano, ukulele, banjo and mandolin. She sings as well.
She was due to sing Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” at a special 29 Who Shine event, which recognized outstanding public higher education students, in front of Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday at the Statehouse.
“They wanted a song which embodies that idea of working toward difficult goals,” Glenn said. “So I thought ‘The Climb’ was a good idea.”
Glenn, a member of the National Honor Society, sports a 4.14 grade-point average at Amesbury High School. While she may be the first Amesbury High student to graduate from both college and high school in the same month, Glenn said she hopes to see more good things come out of the Early College program.
“Early College is threatened by financial issues every year and that is really unfortunate,” Glenn said. “But I think it is a program worth fighting for.”
But while it may be popular, funding for next year’s Early College program is not set in stone.
Amesbury High Principal Elizabeth McAndrews said she is still awaiting feedback from a “potential partner” to help fund next year’s program but was hesitant to comment further.
“We have pieced it together for this year and we will piece it together for next year, this is an important program for us,” McAndrews said. “Early College enrollment is absolutely essential to what we do. With the prohibitive costs of college and universities, getting a jump-start on some of the general requirements is a huge cost savings for our students and their families and it also provides self-confidence to the students themselves. “
Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.