Ivy Tech Community College Northwest honored seven local high school seniors with a dinner Wednesday at Avalon Manor in celebration of the associate degrees and technical certificates they will be awarded Saturday.

Ivy Tech has an agreement with several regional high schools, offering courses to students to enable them to earn college credits toward an associate degree or a technical certificate while simultaneously earning a high school diploma. 

This year, three students from 21st Century Charter School in Gary are graduating with an associate degree in general studies from Ivy Tech. The students are Shakira Burks, Nyesha Canady and Arhonai Bandy.

Four Whiting High School seniors are graduating with a technical certificate in industrial technology from Ivy Tech. They are Jackson Cieceirski, Marcelo Lopez, Oscar Iniguez and Brett Gibbons. The students attended the dinner with their families.

Joseph Arredondo, Ivy Tech’s regional director of K-12 Initiatives, said the college offers two different programs. It has a high school-based dual credit program which is free to students when Ivy Tech can approve their teacher as the teacher.

“The teacher has to meet Ivy Tech faculty credentialing requirements,” he said.

“We also have an Ivy Tech-based program where Ivy Tech teachers teach the classes,” Arredondo said. “There is a fee for those. Both 21st Century Charter and Whiting High School send their students to our campuses. We also have a Faculty-On-Loan program where we send Ivy Tech faculty to local high schools at a very reduced rate.”

The dual-credit program has grown over the years. Statewide, it now has 383 high schools/career centers (public, nonpublic, charter, etc.) with whom it has an agreement, compared to 366 in 2012-13. Ivy Tech reports it has saved Indiana residents more than $20 million dollars in college tuition last year through the high school-based dual credit program. In Northwest Indiana, that translates into $1.7 million.