Sixty-two students graduated from Independence High Magnet School on May 6 on the school’s football field.

While challenges were evident, Independence High is instead focusing on the achievements of its Class of 2021 students, said Principal Chasity Collier.

IHS boasts that among Class of 2021 students, 74 percent are eligible for one of the four TOPS scholarship awards, and the class features one welder, three welder’s helpers, four AutoCAD drafters, 15 mechanical designers, three agri-technology specialists, 14 micro-enterprise specialists, two certified internet webmasters, two web designers and one emergency medical responder.

“Only 1 statewide credential is required for students in the Jump Start pathway, yet our graduates exceeded that requirement: 35 percent have two statewide credentials, 5 percent have three statewide credentials and another 5 percent have four statewide credentials,” Collier said.

IHS promotes industry-based certifications starting in ninth grade. Although students in the Core 4 University pathway are not required to earn credentials, 95 percent of this graduating class have earned at least one complimentary or statewide certification, she added.

Out of 62 graduates, 26 students will receive TOPS Tech Award Scholarship and 2 TOPS Opportunity Award Scholarship. Others are registered to attend a variety of colleges.

The graduating class’ top 10 students are, in order starting with first, Hayley Christine Medders, Sera Jane Strauch, Raniya Rochelle Austin, Kenneth John Walker III, Kaylan Ayana Smith, Jacquelyn Calderon, Josue Alexander Figueroa, Jazmin Jamileth Fernandez Martinez, Jasmine Alexiss McNeese and Cayli Grace Parish.

Darionte Ginn received a full paid scholarship to play football at Copiah Lincoln Community College. Two students signed enlistment to the military: Floyd Stokes, US Marine Corps; and Julisa Carter, US Navy.

“Although we are a very small high school, we still offer all the required college-bound courses and these courses are taught by in-person teachers, not via online instruction,” Collier said.

She stressed that they are proud to boast that IHS maximizes its instructional resources

“For the first time ever in IHS history, Advanced Placement (AP) courses are being offered at IHS,” she said. “This year, we began with AP English Literature where 41 students sat for the AP test. This upcoming year, we are adding two more courses: AP Human Geography and AP World History. All Core 4 (university bound students) are required to take these courses. We have provided multiple ACT Boot Camps during the school day to all students prior to taking the ACT at no cost to students or parents in order to allow the most equitable access to this critical resource.”

IHS also offers a variety of vocational pathways for students who are in the Jump Start career pathway.

“Our staff is very diverse and many teachers teach both core and career classes,” she said. “Because we are a small high school, our teachers have to be multi-certificated so that we can maximize our master schedule and the resources available. It is the only way we have been able to offer a wide variety of opportunities to students.”

“Our goal is not to allow the size of our school to limit our ability to provide students with choices for their future,” she added.

Some of the vocational pathways offered are Carpentry, Welding, Welding Helper, CNA (Nursing Assistant), EMR (1st Responder), Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW), Hospitality & Tourism/Retail, Drafting, Medical Assistant, Business Manager, Technology Specialist, Web Design, Construction and Manufacturing, Certified Logistics Technician, Certified Logistics Associate and Agri-Science Technology. Within each pathway, students must pass industry-based certifications in order to obtain the required credential for that pathway.

Collier stressed that IHS has a very strong vocational program and continues to add pathways and credentials as opportunities to do so arise.

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