Dr. Prickett celebrated December graduates with special breakfast

Melanie Mella is the first in her family to graduate high school and go to college. So when she found out that she was eligible to graduate early, she thought, “why not?”

It fits with her desire to push herself to new heights. It was through her pursuit of Distiguished Warrior – an achievement program for graduates – that she found out that she could graduate in December 2022. She still plans to attend the May 2023 commencement with her fellow Class of 2023 members.

“I guess I always wanted to be seen for my accomplishments,” she said.

Mella and her friends Mackenna Christon and Jasmine Randhawa are all taking advantage of early graduation to get a head start on their future plans. They all plan to start their college education at McHenry County College and then see where things go from there.

They are part of a group of 53 seniors graduating early from McHenry Community High School. For the first time since anyone can remember, the school hosted a breakfast to celebrate the early graduates in December before first semester final exams.

Principal Jeff Prickett encouraged the early graduates to keep an open mind as they pursue future career paths. He said he didn’t expect to become a principal when he graduated high school.

“We’re very proud of you,” Prickett said. “This is just our way of saying ‘thank you’ and ‘we appreciate you.’ ”

Prickett said the idea for the breakfast came from students on his Renaissance team. The team replaced the Principal’s Advisory Council to provide feedback on school events and improvements.

Prickett noted that it is not easy to be able to finish high school a little early. Curtis Menke, MCHS college and career counselor, said when he talks to students about the possibility of graduating early, he makes sure there is a good plan in place.

He said most students take the next step right away in January to start attending community college, such as McHenry County College, or military or career training. Some students may start taking classes at a community college before starting at a four-year institution in the fall.

“If a student has a clear Next Step and they are willing to begin that Next Step in January, graduating early is an option to consider,” Menke said.