Groton students celebrate dual graduation

GHS senior Lilly McCormick, valedictorian. She’s one of several Groton students who recently received an associate’s degree through the school’s partnership with Tompkins Cortland Community College.
GHS senior Lilly McCormick, valedictorian. She’s one of several Groton students who recently received an associate’s degree through the school’s partnership with Tompkins Cortland Community College.
Photo by Linda Competillo

Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) would have held its 51st commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 21. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, like most colleges and universities, that will not be taking place.

Nonetheless, nine of Groton High School’s 53-member 2020 graduating class will still receive their associate’s degree from having taken courses during the school year at GHS and over summers at TC3 throughout their high school careers.

Groton has had a program in place with TC3 for several years wherein students may take dual enrollment courses and earn both high school and college credits simultaneously.  

Those students are Brooke Brecht, Abby Corcoran, Morgan Dittman, Kade Eldred, Kaleb Goodwin, Drew Jackson, Lilly McCormick, Averie Roberts and Jay Vanvolkinburg Jr.

McCormick, who is also the GHS valedictorian, said that role is one that has been her goal for as long as she can remember.

“Now that I’ve finally achieved that, it almost doesn’t feel real. I’m thankful that all of my hard work has paid off and that I was actually able to reach my long-awaited goal,” McCormick said. “I’m also thankful for everyone who has believed in me and supported me along the way.”

McCormick said she’s missed out on a lot due to COVID-19 abruptly ending her senior year without a chance to say goodbye.

“I think I’m most disappointed that I didn’t get to spend time with my teachers,” she said. “Usually in the last few months in high school, seniors get the opportunity to connect with teachers one last time and get advice from them. However, I’m extremely thankful for how the community has dealt with this situation and the support the district has shown us seniors and the entire student body.”

This fall, McCormick will be attending Ithaca College in clinical health studies/physical therapy.

Corcoran is the GHS salutatorian and plans to attend Pennsylvania State University to study biobehavioral health with the hope of becoming a physician assistant.

“There are multiple intelligent students in the class, and I am honored to be named salutatorian,” Corcoran said. “The early degree program has helped me develop skills of independence and time management. I was able to see what type of work ethic is necessary for my upcoming years at Penn State.”

Corcoran also said she was very disappointed with how the year ended.

“Senior year was supposed to be one filled with many positive memories, yet it ended in being distanced from our friends and teachers,” she said. “However, the school has made this upsetting time much less difficult.”

Brecht will attend Ithaca College to major in biology and has also been accepted into the pre-vet program. She plans to become a veterinarian specializing in rehabilitation and therapy.

“Being part of the New Visions program this year, I was very disappointed in not being able to complete my senior project and study at Shoals Marine Lab in Maine with my class, as well as missing out on the rewarding parts of my high school career,” Brecht said. “However, I am so glad I was able to complete my soccer and basketball sports seasons and spend the majority of my year making new friends and working hard on Cornell’s campus.”

Brecht also said she feels that taking college classes allowed her to see what it will be like to go to college and work at a higher level and showed her the importance of time management and responsibility.

“I also feel like I am prepared to go to college in the fall and adjust to harder work and rigorous content,” she said.

Brecht reflected on the past few months living with the coronavirus.

“It was definitely not the senior year I had hoped for, but it has taught me to never take a day for granted and to appreciate every day with your friends, as you never know if it’ll be your last,” Brecht said.

Dittman said she feels she has benefitted in so many ways through the TC3 program.

“I was able to save a lot of money, so I would recommend it to any high school student,” she said. “Along with that, the experience has taught me how to manage my time and learn on my own, giving me an introduction to the college experience.”

Dittman will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in diagnostic medical sonography, in which she hopes to pursue a career.

Regarding the way her year ended, Dittman said, “I feel that though it is not what we were expecting, with the support of peers and teachers, we have been able to make the best of this situation.”

“I am extremely grateful for my teachers making the transition to distance learning as easy as possible,” Dittman said. “I have made so many memories during high school and will forever be grateful.”

Goodwin, who plans to attend SUNY Albany for political sciences, also spoke highly of the program.

“I think the dual credit system with TC3 is amazing, and everyone who plans on going to college should do what they can to take courses with college credits,” Goodwin said. “It is really worth it for students because they will be saving so much money in the long run.”

Goodwin said his senior year has been challenging since COVID-19 hit.

“It isn’t exactly what I expected from my senior year and it is definitely not what I wanted, but it’s what we all got, so we just have to deal with it unfortunately,” Goodwin said.

Roberts said she is grateful to have taken college courses in high school because she feels that not only prepared her for the academic expectations of undergraduate studies but that it also earned her an advantage to be entering college with her associate’s degree.

“In the fall, I will be attending Colgate to major in neuroscience, but eventually, I aspire to become a doctor,” Roberts said.

Despite the difficulties she and her fellow students have faced, Roberts said she is grateful for the support she’s received.

“Nobody anticipated our senior year would be like this, but even with the unfortunate circumstances, I am so appreciative of the caring community we are a part of and incredibly proud of how strong our class is in the face of adversity,” Roberts said.

This fall, Eldred will attend Rochester Institute of Technology for computer science. Jackson will study engineering and be enrolled in Navy ROTC.

Vanvolkinburg will study actuarial sciences at SUNY Albany.
Groton High School will, in fact, hold its graduation on Saturday, June 27, at Ross Field. Details to come.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.
In brief:
Early College Program’s future
Groton has officially been awarded the Early College High School (ECHS) grant of $825,000 over five years to enhance its college and career readiness program. It is one of eight districts in the state to be awarded this grant this year.

The first cohort is the current class of 2024. Those eighth-grade students will attend a “freshmen orientation” this fall to prepare for the start of their four-year high school career.

Workshop topics will include time and organizational management, goal setting, team building, resource utilization, personal wellness, public speaking and more.

Students in this program will earn a minimum of 24, up to 60 college credits and possibly an associate degree from TC3 before they graduate high school, at no cost to them.
Free pasta dinner
The Rotary Club of Groton and the Groton Central School Faculty Association are joining forces to sponsor a free “curbside grab-and-go” community pasta dinner to honor and recognize individuals “on the front lines” (first responders, medical workers, essential workers and parents/guardians providing instruction at home).

The dinner will take place Thursday, May 28, from 5:30 p.m. until the food is gone at the C.R. Pavilion on Main Street. The menu will consist of ziti, meatballs, salad, roll and dessert; first come, first served, limit of six dinners per family.

Library puzzle contest
The Groton Public Library is sponsoring an online jigsaw puzzle contest. All are invited to enter in one of four categories: 500-piece or 1,000-piece individual, 500-piece or 1,000-piece group.

Register online at Once you have registered, you will receive an email with details. Contest runs from May 12 to June 12. Winners in each category will win a free puzzle that matches their category.


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