Meet this year’s early graduates


(Photo courtesy of family)

Lilly Barry signing for University of Illinois.

Alyssa Dryer, Reporter

Thursday, December 22 will be the last day for two seniors. With the help of counselor Carrie Hoffman’s (she/her) planning, Seniors Lily Barry (she/her) and Oli Crutcher (they/them) have decided to graduate a semester early.

For the semester off, Barry plans to play Division I volleyball at the University of Illinois. Barry is excited to start a new chapter in her life and is ready for the challenges she will face in learning and playing volleyball as a college student. 

“Students still have to meet the 24 credits total in order to graduate,” Hoffman said. “The type of class load that they have to take is really dependent on them. It’s how much they are wanting to do during the school year and/or if they are wanting to take summer classes.”

Some students who want to get ahead decide to take classes in the summer, allowing them to only take six classes when school starts in the fall. 

“What works best for one person may not work best for everybody else,” Hoffman said. However, for the seniors who want to get a jump start in their academics and athletics at a university, enrolling one semester early makes the most sense. It does, however, require a student to put in extra work. 

“I’m excited to be around athletes that have the same mindset as me,” Barry said. “I know I can be the starting libero; I know I have the capability, but I’m going to have to fight for it.”

#12 Barry ended the season by having over 1,000 career kills and 852 digs. Barry usually plays club volleyball in her off season, but this year is different because she is going to start working out with the University of Illinois in the winter. 

“I try to get as much work as I can done in my free periods. I do have off time before practices that I can get my homework done, but sometimes it does get challenging,” Barry said.

Counselors are eager to assist students who want to graduate early with all of their requirements. 

“There are lots of pieces to a puzzle that go into place for that, so the students need to be thinking about what logistically works best for them,” Hoffman said.

Students who graduate early may want to take the semester off and travel while others may want to finish all of their school years early. 

“I can go to a smaller college and get my work done early,” Crutcher said.

Even with a good plan, it’s up to the student to find the motivation to meet early graduation requirements. Crutcher is attending Heartland Community College in the spring. 

“I will be taking some classes at Heartland and getting my prerequisites out of the way,” Crutcher said. They are excited about this new opportunity but they are going to miss seeing their friends every day. 

“I can find the motivation within me to work really hard,” Crutcher said. Graduating a semester early comes with some challenges. Graduates have to say goodbye to friendships they have formed over the last three and a half years. They also say goodbye to everything that is U-High. 

“Obviously it’s super exciting, but especially at U-High where there are a lot of traditions that happen,” Crutcher said. “Even though I’m still invited back for a lot of them (traditional events), it’s a little bit different than the way I would be inside of the school.”   

Whether students graduate early or not, however, it’s important to enjoy the journey. 

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Barry said. “Your time here at U-High goes by so fast.”