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21 Canton Prep Students Graduate with Diploma and Associate Degree

What started as an excellent opportunity for driven students to earn an associate’s degree with one extra year of school has morphed into something quite unexpected at Canton Preparatory High School in Michigan.
In a first for the school, 21 scholars, all part of the Early College program, graduated with their associate degree and their high school diploma at the same time in just 12 years of school. Leave it to students to figure out a way to maximize their potential in the shortest amount of time possible.
“They’re very motivated,” said Mira Al-Mahayni, the school’s college and career readiness counselor. “Many of them would take their college classes and then come back to school and take part in high school sports, and clubs, a job. I believe they have ownership of their learning.”
Al-Mahayni is also the coordinator of the Early Middle College program and has seen the change in the desire of the students who take advantage of this special opportunity. Of the 95 seniors at the school this year, 33 took part in the early middle college program.

“I’m meeting with many of the juniors now and they don’t want to take the 13th year, they want to be done with both their associates and diploma at the same time. They want to do the same thing.”
Al-Mahayni said it shows how motivated some students are to take full advantage of their learning opportunities. Her focus is to help guide them past some of the mistakes they could make and emphasize the importance of good grades along the way.
“I tell them, ‘I know you’re focused on wanting to get out of here your senior year, but you need to be focused. Your GPA matters. You want your GPA to be impressive because that will make your next steps easier. It’s o.k. if you do classes in the summer after your senior year, or into your 13th year, it’s o.k. to finish up strong.’”
The program has expanded each year since its start four years ago. This year 68 students were accepted into the program, the previous year that number was in the 40s.
“We are now to the point where each cohort class needs to have two separate classrooms, and we are at max for the number per classroom. We’re just so proud of our kids, to see how motivated they are and how they’re taking advantage of this program. They’re learning so seriously, and to be able to accomplish two milestones at the same time, it’s absolutely amazing. We never anticipated this was going to happen.”
The students never stop impressing Al-Mahayni with their desire to get ahead.
“Just seeing how our students made that new step, literally two years ahead of a traditional student, they’re jumping right into their junior year in college. If you have that motivation and that drive, then the sky’s the limit.”

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About Canton Preparatory High School
Canton Preparatory High School is a tuition-free, public charter school in Canton, Michigan, serving students in ninth through 12th grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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