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BOE Honors Senior Set to Earn Associate's Degree and High School Diploma

Meleah Barnes, 18, VRHS senior, reacts during "Fantastic 49" May 11. High school students lined up for “Fantastic 49” recognition May 11, ahead of a Board of Education meeting in District 49.

The students, selected for various reasons, took turns approaching the panel of BOE directors. Each time, teachers stood at a podium to explain why a student was worthy of recognition as a student and a leader.

Meleah Barnes, 18, a twelfth-grader at Vista Ridge High School, was recommended for recognition by concurrent enrollment dean Elisabeth Fisk.

“Meleah is the first student in District 49 to complete her Associates of Arts and Business while completing her high school degree at the same time,” said Fisk during her introduction.

Meleah earned college credit in high school through concurrent enrollment, a program for students to earn free college credits on high school and college campuses while completing high school graduation requirements.

Concurrent enrollment, a component of 49 Pathways, District 49’s new model for secondary education, allows students to cater their high school experience to their unique strengths and interests through new state graduation requirements.

“The first time we met she walks into my office with her mom and she sits down and she says, ‘Don’t worry, I have a plan,’” said Fisk, recalling her first conversation with Meleah, who had all the classes laid out to earn an Associate’s Degree while in high school.

Fisk informed the board directors that Meleah earned a 4.0 grade point average at VRHS and a 3.5 grade point average at Pikes Peak Community College while working at a pool and running track.

“This is an awesome opportunity for you to be recognized for all of your incredible hard work,” said Fisk. “I am so honored and humbled to be able to work with you because you did all of this yourself. You were just an incredible student.”

As she took the podium, Meleah thanked Fisk, VRHS staff and BOE directors for the opportunity to better her life. “Thanks for allowing me to not have as much financial burden of course,” said Meleah, “because who wants that?”

“I could never imagine seeing myself succeeding at all the things I’ve done, thank you so much.”

Matt Meister