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Butler Early College Academy Graduates Students

Butler Early College Academies Graduating students
Published: Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

58 Early College Academy Students receive their Associate’s Degree at the same time as their High School Diploma.

Butler Community College handed its 2017 Early College Academies graduates an associate’s degree or certificate during an Academy graduation ceremony held May 7. Butler’s Early College Academies offer local high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to pursue their associate’s degree while still in high school.

The students graduated from the Health Sciences, IT, Engineering and Public Safety Services academies. In total, they received more than $1million in scholarships from the colleges they plan to attend.

“I’m so proud of these students and their accomplishments,” said Lori Winningham, Vice President of Academics at Butler. “It is amazing what they have done.”

Mel Whiteside, Butler’s Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), told the students to continue to push themselves.

“Do not give up. Be a lifelong learner,” Whiteside said. “Enjoy life and have a passion for whatever you do.”

Sydnee Johnston, a senior at Derby High School and a Health Sciences Academy graduate has always had a passion for animals. Someday she hopes to be a veterinarian. Meanwhile, she will play volleyball for Bethel College while working toward veterinary school.

This year’s valedictorian at Bluestem High School, Kaylyn Baker, wants to either work in the neonatal unit at a hospital or with the disabled. She will take her associate’s degree from Butler and pursue a bachelor’s in nursing next fall.

Another student, Michaela Gerhard of Derby High School, who maintained a 4.0 GPA at Butler, will continue to run track at Friends University.

“At first I was a little scared, but now it’s the best decision I ever made,” said Michaela. “This academy has opened so many doors for me. It’s changed my life.”

Mercedez Kalp of Douglass High School and Blaine Nelson of Derby High School were recognized for their positive attitude, spirit and leadership abilities. Mercedez, who completed her associate’s degree in the IT Academy, plans to major in elementary education at Emporia. Blaine, who attended the Health Sciences Academy, is heading up to KU School of Nursing. In addition to completing his associate’s degree, Blaine played on the Derby football, track and wrestling teams. Although he had to give up band, he said the academy was “the best."

Some students completed their degree but decided to switch majors. Gideon Wiley received his associate’s degree in health science. But after visiting nursing homes, he decided he wanted to change course and become a lawyer, pursuing cases in malpractice. Wiley, who was homeschooled, will attend Butler next year.

Three Academy students are headed for the military, while the rest will stay closer to home, pursuing degrees from as close by as Butler’s on campus nursing program with KU School of Nursing and as far away as Drury University in Missouri and Oklahoma State University.

“I love the fact that you get an associate’s degree right out of high school,” said homeschooler Jarod Peacock. “I love this program.”

Peacock plans to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant after graduating from Newman University.

2017 graduates from Butler’s Early College Academies include:

High Schools -


Emily Bell—Health Sciences

Skylar Craft—Health Sciences

Grant Geddeis—Health Sciences

Alexa Lesperance—Health Sciences

Camryn Messmore—Health Sciences

Jordan Pearce—Health Sciences

Ethan Plummer—Public Safety (Certificate)

Kayla Stone – Health Sciences

Sara Weber—Public Safety

Abigail Wenninger – Health Sciences

Andover Central:

Erin Flahive—Health Sciences

Alexis Gladfelter—Information Technology (Certificate)

Taryn Gray—Health Sciences

Anna Grendahl—Health Sciences

Alexander Kozarik—Public Safety (Certificate)

Andover eCademy:

David Haag—Information Technology (Certificate)

Zachary Moran - Information Technology (Certificate)

Joshua Scholl—Information Technology (Certificate)


Cameron Mckee—Information Technology


Kaylyn Baker—Health Sciences


Cutter Berk – Information Technology (Certificate)

Kaitlyn Greenwood—Health Science

Hunter Hayes—Information Technology


Rachel Boles—Information Technology (Certificate)

Kyla Beasley—Health Sciences

Carly Bretherton—Health Sciences

Taylor Bynum—Health Sciences

Jacob Clark—Information Technology

Michaela Gerhard—Health Sciences

Tessa Greiving—Health Sciences

Adrianna Guerra—Health Sciences

Sydnee Johnston—Health Sciences

Mykaela Keehn—Health Sciences

Dezarae Little—Health Sciences

Zane Liu—Health Sciences

Alyssa Mapes—Health Sciences

Ana Martinez—Health Sciences

Ryan Monaghan—Health Sciences (Certificate)

Blaine Nelson—Health Sciences

Sabreena Panyara—Health Sciences

Eric Taylor—Information Technology (Certificate)


Kailey Hamilton—Health Sciences

Mercedez Kalp—Information Technology

Laekin Starr—Information Technology

El Dorado:

Clayton Bagley—Engineering (Certificate)

Kylea McArdle—Health Sciences


Jarod Peacock—Health Sciences

Gideon Wiley—Health Sciences


Alyssa Mertz—Health Sciences

Chase Penka—Health Sciences

Ashley Prince—Health Sciences

Olivia Scott—Information Technology

Sammy Strecker—Health Sciences

Maggie Sweeney—Health Sciences

Katelyn Ward—Health Sciences


Coleton Crisp—Public Safety (Certificate)

Rose Hill:

Brooke Alderson—Health Sciences

Madysen Baker—Information Technology

Sydney Barnard—Health Sciences

Maci Carlson—Health Sciences

Kelby Dinkel—Information Technology

Joshua Farrar—Health Sciences

Julianna Pfeiffer—Health Sciences

Aiden Raevsky—Information Technology

Rachel Salazar—Health Sciences

Jessica Strawn—Health Sciences

Briley Stuchlik—Information Technology

Kathy Tran—Health Sciences

Valley Center:

Nicholas May—Information Technology

Gavin McDonald – Information Technology (Certificate)

Thaddeus Swift – Information Technology (Certificate)

Early College Academies include Business & Entrepreneurship, Health Sciences, Criminal Justice & Legal Studies, Fire Science, Engineering Technology, Education, Cyber Security, 3D Technology (Animation, Digital Media and Video Production). In 2017, 93% of Butler Academy students completed their associate’s degree just prior to high school graduation. All students in the 2016-2017 graduating class are either transferring to college or joining the military.