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Twin Falls School District to graduate record 36 seniors with Associates Degrees

The school district has made a concerted effort to pair dual-credit courses at the College of Southern Idaho with the state's Advanced Opportunities program.

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Twin Falls School District (TFSD) is walking a record number of seniors earning their Associates Degrees from their dual-credit partnership with the College of Southern Idaho (CSI), according to TFSD Director of Public Relations Eva Craner.

In total, 36 students will graduate from the district with a college degree alongside many others who also have college credits under their belt.

"We suspect every year that number is going to climb," Canyon Ridge High School Counselor Mollie Lively said. "We have hundreds of dual credits taken every single school year."

The dual-credit program is available at colleges and universities across the state of Idaho, according to the Idaho State Department of Education (ISDE). For TFSD students electing to take the program at CSI, credits cost $75 each.

The district promotes pairing the Advanced Opportunity program where the state will offer each high school student $4,125 to pursue 'educational and career pathways.' This can include dual-credit courses, Advanced Placement (AP) exam costs, and workforce training courses, according to the ISDE.

The district has conducted a strong effort to educate students and families about these opportunities early in their high school education. Conversations can even begin for students still in the eighth grade, according to Lively.

"We tend to focus really heavily on it with our 11th and 12th graders. They're just at the maturity level to be able to take some of those college level classes," Lively said. "It opens the door of opportunity for our students to explore what might interest them after high school. We feel every student will be more successful in high school if they have a sense of what they want to do and have a sense of purpose."

Purpose, however, can be found outside of the classroom, too. Aliza Powlus is a junior at Canyon Ridge, though she's already finished her high school curriculum. Powlus is one semester away from her Associates Degree, too.

"Yeah, I have been very blessed," Powlus said.

Blessed not only for the opportunity - capitalized on through hard work - but also for the life experience that's given direction.

"I have had some great experiences with my family fostering children. I have seen some different dynamics with backgrounds, how the brain works, and just behavior," Powlus said. "That is something I have always been interested in because of my siblings. That are now adopted, yes."

The younger sister of four older biological siblings, turned the older sister of three younger adopted siblings. It's left a lasting impact.

"So, I plan to attend BSU in the fall of 2024 after I graduate. I want to get a bachelor’s in psychology to hopefully become a psychology or family counselor." Powlus said. "I mean, they're just my younger siblings right now, but maybe when I'm older, I can help younger kids like them."

The most recent, fully-updated numbers from TFSD - provided by Craner - date back to the 2021-22 school year. TFSD helped 1,273 students utilize $687,131 worth of Advanced Opportunity funding. This includes 779 overload courses, 2,702 dual-credit courses, three work training courses, and 267 exams.

TFSD students earned 8,463 college credits through the 2021-22 school year.

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