It’s almost 1 a.m. Senior Drayhven Flowers has been sitting in her room, trying to finish the last of her two and a half hours of homework for the night — a US History project. She’s starting to become overwhelmed; she has to get this done. There’s no safety net for her if she is going to graduate at 16. Drayhven focuses and strives to create a silent environment to work in. Finally after 30 minutes she’s done, finishing a project that was meant for a group of three all by herself.
For Drayhven, nights like these aren’t uncommon. She just sees them as another one of the sacrifices she makes in order to meet her goal: graduating a year early.
Drayhven made the decision to graduate early last October. Going into sophomore year, she knew she could get all 23 credits to accomplished by 2014, so she thought why not go for it?
“I realized coming back my senior year would be really boring for me,” Drayhven said. “I just felt like it would be a waste of a year when I could be doing so much more.”
After making her decision, Drayhven also texted her mom, Marilee Flowers, “what would you think about me graduating a year early?”
Marilee’s response: “we’ll talk about it when you get home.”
At first, Drayhven just figured her mom wouldn’t take this plan seriously, and was surprised when Marilee did.
“[I had] a little bit of mixed feelings because once something gets in Drayhven’s head it’s hard to get her to not think about that,” Marilee said. “She’s a very determined young lady.”
While her mom was stunned at first, Marilee knew Drayhven had the work ethic to accomplish this goal, and never doubted her once. She made sure to stress to Drayhven that she needed to have the right reasons for graduating early, not just to get out of high school sooner.
This caused Drayhven to sit down again and think about her decision. Why do I want to graduate early? Will it help me in the long run? Adding a little more work would be worth getting out of high school a year early so she could pursue a higher education. Drayhven made her decision.
“That might not seem like a long time,” Drayhven said. “But it’s kind of a rushed process when you’re a sophomore and you decide that you want to be a senior next year.”
Next, Drayhven went to go see her counselor and started filling out the paperwork for early graduation. After completing all the forms, Drayhven knew she was on the right track.
Due to the fact that Drayhven already had a fair amount of her credits finished, she considered her workload, as a sophomore who was skipping a grade, manageable. Taking gym the summer before her freshman year helped get one of her credits out of the way, and taking health online also helped get another class off her to-do list.
Next, she took English 11 in a summer school program. Since English 11 is a year-long course, Drayhven had to take both semesters and wake up at 6:30 and go to school for three weeks during both June and July. Every day she would tell herself just get through it. Two months of your summer for an entire year next year.
The completion of junior English made Drayhven’s senior status going into this school year official. Due to the fact that she is considered a senior, Drayhven gets to enjoy senior privileges like open lunch despite being only 16.
To Drayhven, being two years younger than most of her classmates can be a little weird sometimes. Walking into English 12 during the first week of school was awkward for her at first, especially when other classmates would ask her why she was in a senior class. Her response is always the same she just nods and says I’m graduating early.
Despite being officially considered a senior, English 12 is technically Drayhven’s only senior class. The rest of her classes are traditional junior classes, like Chemistry and American History. According to Drayhven, this can create an unbalanced work load; one night she will be like a senior with no homework, and the next she will be a junior with piles of it. Adding to her work load, next semester she will be taking American Government online.
Drayhven gets through this by utilizing her time management skills and the support from her mom and her close friends.
One of Drayhven’s closest friends, senior Izzy Scarlett, also made the decision to graduate early after Drayhven told her about it last year. According to Scarlet,t being in the same situation as Drayhven helps them provide a strong support system for each other.
“I think it’s good for her,” Scarlett said.“I’m glad she’s [graduating early] along with myself.”
Drayhven won’t turn 17 until five days after graduation. Because of this, her almost two-year age makes it hard for her to go to a traditional four-year university like most of her other senior classmates.
Instead of going to a traditional college next year, Drayhven plans to continue living with her mom and working at Minsky’s in The Village. She plans to attend Johnson County Community College next fall in order to complete her general education classes.
While she isn’t 100 percent sure what she is going to do after that first year out of high school, Drayhven says she hopes to become a pediatric psychologist one day. That is her next goal, and she knows that with the right amount of determination she can get there, just like she’s getting to early graduation.
“[Drayhven] mostly pushes herself, and that’s what’s so wonderful about her,” Marilee said. “She has this great work ethic in that she wants to [accomplish her goals] and that she wants to do her best at it.”