a person in a graduation cap speaking
Valedictorian Layla Beals addresses her class at the Columbia Early College High School commencement ceremony.

Columbia Early College High School Celebrates Class Of 2023

The Class of 2023 at Columbia Early College High School celebrated their high school graduation in Columbia, N.C. The dual enrollment program, which allows students to start taking college courses while in high school, saw 40 students presented with high school diplomas, six of whom also received associate degrees through Beaufort County Community College.

Students who also earned degrees through BCCC had participated in a larger ceremony with graduates from the college and other early college high school students on May 11. They are headed off to universities, the military, and the workforce. Just as important as the associate degrees earned are all the college credits that the graduating class earned. Students who did not complete a degree still have the option to finish at BCCC or transfer credits to a university, saving them time and money.

Graduates were recognized for different achievements at the ceremony. Layla Beals, Tucker Fleming, Leticia Gonzalez-Ochoa, Mia Martinez-Garcia, Coral McQuigg, and Alaina Sawyer all received degrees through Beaufort. Leticia Gonzalez-Ochoa earned the Beatrice Calderon Citizenship Award. Layla Beals, Tucker Fleming, and Mia Martinez-Gracia earned the President’s Award for Educational Achievement. Tucker Fleming earned the President’s Award for Educational Excellence.

Layla Beals, Delilah Childress, Jazmine Etheridge, Tucker Fleming, McKinley Gardner, Leticia Gonzalez-Ochoa, Mia Martinez-Garcia, and Deidra Webb all graduated with honors. Leticia Gonzalez-Ochoa was the salutatorian, and Layla Beals was the valedictorian.

Dr. Karrie Dixon, Chancellor of Elizabeth City State University, addressed the graduates.

Every high school in Beaufort County Community College’s four-county service area has students who participate in dual-enrollment programs. At Columbia ECHS, students can choose to stay a fifth year to complete college courses, though all students in the Class of 2023 graduate together. This means that students who prefer a traditional high school education can graduate in four years and choose not to take any college classes, though most of the Class of 2023 graduated with some college credit.

BCCC also partners with Washington County Early College High School, Hyde Academy, and Beaufort County Early College High School, and qualified students from all area high schools can take free college classes through Career and College Promise.

BCCC wishes all the best to its early college students.