Only one cap-and-gown-clad student crossed Compass Academy’s commencement stage this week — the magnet high school’s first and only graduate to date.
The student, 17-year-old Mikayla Parsons, technically was a junior this year. But last fall, she received approval from the Idaho Falls School District 91 school board to complete her required classes for graduation early.
So, school officials arranged a special graduation ceremony for Parsons on Thursday. An audience of more than 150 watched as Parsons received her diploma.
“It was a pretty
emotional ceremony just because I was the only graduate,” she said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet. I’m still kind of in the mode of like, ‘Well, it’s finally summer.’ But it was super exciting.”
Compass Academy is part of the New Tech Network, which includes more than 140 schools nationwide. It focuses on a technology-rich, project-based learning curriculum. The school opened in 2012 to 285 freshman and sophomores.
Next year is the first time it will have four grade levels, with enrollment projected at more than 500 students, Principal Matt Bertasso said in February.
Parsons opted to pursue early graduation as far back as her freshman year, when she was a student at Taylorview Junior High School.
“I knew high school wasn’t necessarily my favorite,” she said. “I didn’t think I was being pushed to my full potential, I didn’t think there was a point to staying if I could graduate early.”
Next year, Parsons plans to attend Lewis &Clark College in Portland, Ore., where she’ll pursue either women’s studies or chemistry. As for leaving Compass, she has mixed feelings.
“I was pretty emotional (at the ceremony) because I’ve made a lot of friends here,” she said. “But I’m also really excited for college.”
Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.