Head of the class

Six students in MaST Charter School and Community College of Philadelphia’s first ever MC2 program will graduate from high school and college at the age of 17.

Shining stars: Savannah Zazulak, Mackenzie Schoen, Sabrina Fiocca, Carson Lowe, Anthony Rodriguez and Selwin Varughese comprised the first class of students enrolled in the dual schooling program between MaST and Community College of Philadelphia. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

When the school year concludes next year, six MaST Community Charter School students will walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma — and an associate’s degree in business.

Savannah Zazulak, Mackenzie Schoen, Sabrina Fiocca, Carson Lowe, Anthony Rodriguez and Selwin Varughese comprised the first class of students enrolled in the dual schooling program between MaST and Community College of Philadelphia. The program is known as MC2, and allows students to take high school and college classes at the same time. These students will graduate high school with 60 college credits, which is the equivalent of about four semesters at most colleges.

The students received recognition for their hard work last Wednesday at the college’s Northeast campus, where the students take college courses. They were honored as the first “cohort” who trail-blazed the program.

“There are those who will challenge the idea of high school students in college, but we have found that not only are they successful in both high school and in college, they’re also successful later on when they enter the job program,” said Dr. Donald Generals, the president of CCP.

Starting at a brand new school can be intimidating for college freshmen new to campus — let alone high school sophomores. But Carson said his experience was positive.

“The staff and students here never looked at us differently even when we told them we were from high school,” Carson said.

Carson has been a MaST student for 13 years, and has participated in pioneering programs for the school, including robotics and engineering. He wants to be an engineer when he grows up.

Carson said he did not want to join the program at first. His parents told him that a business degree can be universally applied to any major, but he was not sure if it would be worth the extra work. Now a senior, he happily admitted he was wrong.

For Savannah and Mackenzie, participating in the program meant a lot of extra studying.

“It was hard to manage at first, but my grades got better each year,” Mackenzie said.

But that studying will be worth it when they save the time and money those two years of college would have required.

“Colleges like unique,” Savannah said. “When we apply to colleges, they’ll see we took the harder path and help us stand out.”

The program has gradually grown since its first year, expanding to about 17 current sophomores joining the program in its third year this year. The first cohort is responsible for mentoring the third, answering any questions they have.

Students are able to participate starting their sophomore year of high school. High school classes are scheduled to accommodate around their college course schedules, and MaST gives them periods during the school day to work on their double course load.

Savannah is currently deciding between two colleges to continue her education. She wants to become a pediatric nurse when she grows up.

“It’s always good to have a business background in any aspect,” she said. “Say I wanted to build my own practice to help children and be their doctor, I can do that with my business degree.”

But for the first time in three years, she can say she’ll take things one step at a time.

“[My plans are] to go to college,” Savannah said. “Get another degree.”

Not too many high school seniors can say that. ••