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Now that’s an accomplishment! Two diplomas in one weekend for seven area graduates

Now that’s an accomplishment! Two diplomas in one weekend for seven area graduates

NORFOLK, Neb. – It’s not uncommon for anyone to attend multiple graduation celebrations each spring. But families of students at two area high schools in northeast Nebraska had good reason to keep the celebrations going recently after their children completed an accomplishment that is beginning to become more common – earning both high school and college diplomas at the same time.

The graduates – one from O’Neill High School (OHS) and six others from Bancroft-Rosalie High School - are among those who see the value of getting a head start on their college education while they are still in high school. 

Makala Williams, director of early college at Northeast, said there are many advantages of getting a jump start on college.

“The grades and credits students earn can be used towards a degree at Northeast or transferred to another college. It also gives students an idea of the environment of a college campus before their first day as a college freshman,” Williams said. “And students who take college credit courses during high school are typically twice as likely to attend college after graduation. For these seven students, they will be able to work on the next steps of their college career a few years sooner.”

Berren Strope, O’Neill, has dreamed of becoming an attorney since he was five years old. To get a start on his educational journey after high school, he enrolled in early college classes through Northeast while finishing the requirements to earn his high school diploma from O’Neill. In fact, he collected two diplomas in one weekend – an associate of arts degree (academic transfer) from Northeast on Fri., May 12, and his high school diploma from O’Neill High School a day later.

Strope considers it an “honor” to be able to graduate with high school and college degrees at the same time.

“Dual credit courses through O’Neill High School and online courses through Northeast’s extended campus in O’Neill have made it possible for me to accomplish my career goals sooner and more affordably. The support I have received from both Northeast and OHS has been awesome,” Strope said. “Taking both high school and college classes has been a rewarding challenge that will serve me well in the future with improved communication, multi-tasking and time management skills.” 

Strope plans to attend Kansas State University this fall where he will major in agricultural economics with a pre-law specialty. After law school, he wants to move back to O’Neill to practice with his father, Boyd Strope, at Strope Law, PC.

There are several ways to earn college credit through Northeast while a student is still in high school including dual credit classes which allow students to earn both high school and college credits at the same time. These courses are customarily taken in area high schools, taught by faculty who meet Northeast’s specific qualifications.

In addition, classes may be taken online, virtually, at any of Northeast’s campuses, or through specific programs like Fridays @ Northeast or Pathways 2 Tomorrow (P2T)

The Fridays @ Northeast program is a unique opportunity for high school seniors to spend the last day of the school week on Northeast campuses as college students using its lab spaces and classrooms. The P2T program is a consortium that consists of eight school districts that pool their resources together to provide hands-on, career and technical education for students within five career pathways: building construction, computer sciences, education, health sciences, and welding. Students may also enroll in classes to earn their Commercial Driving License (CDL). 

The six graduates from Bancroft-Rosalie - Isabella Bonneau, Grace Johnson, MaKenna King, McKenzie Murphy, Payton Nolting, and Elise Raasch - attended classes through the P2T program of which their district is a member of the consortium. Dr. Jon Cerny, superintendent of Bancroft-Rosalie Community Schools, said seeing the graduates receive their associate degree diplomas on the same day they graduated from high school is a proud accomplishment.

“This achievement highlights the exceptional quality of our academic programs and the dedication of our students to take ownership of their learning. We believe that this accomplishment will serve as a springboard for our graduates to pursue their passions and achieve great things in their future endeavors,” Cerny said. “We want to congratulate our seniors on this remarkable achievement, and we wish them all the best in their future academic and professional pursuits.”

Bonneau plans to matriculate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in Human Development and Family Sciences (Pre-Physical Therapy). Johnson will attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) to major in communications disorders. King plans to enroll at Wayne State College to pursue a degree in chemistry health sciences (pre-medicine). Murphy will pursue a degree in kinesiology (pre-occupational therapy) at UNO. Nolting will attend UNL to earn a degree in biology (pre-dental). Raasch will pursue a degree in pre-health at UNO.  

There is incentive for more high school students to consider taking Early College classes. Williams said beginning this fall, the program at Northeast will provide no cost tuition for all students currently enrolled in high school to take dual credit or college credit courses. 

Both general education and career and technical education courses are available through Early College at Northeast. While there will be no cost for tuition for high school students beginning this fall, some courses may have a cost associated with purchasing a book(s) and/or supplies. 

To learn more about the Early College program at Northeast Community College, visit or contact Williams at (402) 844-7118 or


                                                                                            PHOTO CUTLINE 

Six members of the Class of 2023 at Bancroft-Rosalie High School received their associate degree diplomas from Northeast Community College on the same day as their high school graduation ceremony. The graduates are among a growing number of high school students who are getting a start on their college education through Northeast’s Early College program. Pictured (from left) are Elise Raasch, Grace Johnson, McKenzie Murphy, Payton Nolting, Isabella Bonneau, and MaKenna King.