BARSTOW •  While a large number of students attending summer school at Barstow High School are catching up on learning, the majority of students sitting in Lyn Schrader's English class are there for another reason: to graduate early.

This year, the high school has seen a jump in the number of students graduating early. Up to 28 12th-graders are slated to complete all their course requirements and become "seventh semester grads." The average in the past has been 10 students, according to Principal Scott Godfrey.

Nineteen of those students awaiting early graduation were taking turns reading aloud from "The Greatest Man In The World," a short  story by James Thurber in Schrader's class Monday.

According to Schrader, students graduate early for wide range of reasons.

Students like Christina Garcia want to get a jump start on college. While Garcia is enrolling at Barstow Community College right after finishing the fall semester, the 17-year-old said she's not quite sure yet what she wants to study so she's giving herself more time to figure out a career path.

"If I start early, I can start planning," said Garcia.

Others like Charlie Tolbert, who will finish high school a semester early but still plans to come back for important events like prom and graduation, said he wanted to start working full-time.

"I feel bad about leaving some of my friends, but I'm just ready for real life," said the 17-year-old, who noted that he will be interviewing for a retail clothing position at Tanger Outlets on Tuesday.

Darrell Tumlin wants to join the Marine Corps and will be using time after finishing classes to study for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam, a military aptitude test.

Each student is driven by their own goals, Schrader noted.

"They're very motivated kids," she said.

Some early graduates, like Tiffany Perea, have run into roadblocks since finishing high school. The 18-year-old graduated from BHS in January and is currently still submitting job applications.

"I didn't assume I'd get jobs right away," said Perea.

"I'm still trying to find one," she said. "It's pretty hard right now." In between submitting job applications to In-N-Out and Home Depot, Perea said she plans to enroll at BCC. The 18-year-old said she wants to pursue a career as a youth pastor and a sports trainer and will begin studying theology and sports management at the college when classes start Aug. 17.

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(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com