Two Sophomores Spending Last Two Years Of High School At College


TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- It's typically a high schooler's dream to graduate, leave the home and experience all the glories of college life.

Two sharp area high schoolers are doing that - a little earlier than usual.

Just looking at Patrick Duensing and Katie Emerson's medals, awards and certificates, it's easy to see they have done pretty well for themselves in school.

"I have a higher GPA than Patrick!"

Katie and Patrick might joke about it, but when it comes to grades, they're serious.

With their smarts, the two Shawnee Heights High School sophomores are going to college sooner than most.

"I think it's going to be weird," Patrick said. "It's going to be a strange transition, but it should be exciting."

Patrick and Katie were accepted into the exclusive Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science program at Fort Hays State University. 30 of the state's brightest students take college-level classes at the university for their junior and senior years of high school.

"I'm excited!" Katie said. "I think it's a great opportunity and I'm happy that I can do it."

They'll be leaving the nest two years early, but their parents are nothing but proud.

"We're very excited to not only have Patrick going, but to have Katie going along also is going to be a really neat deal," Ed Duensing, Patrick's father, said.

The Emersons see it as a chance to better Katie's future, but to make lasting relationships.

"I'm really looking forward for her to branch out. It's a great opportunity. I think that she's got some of the best friendships ahead of her in the next couple of years," Katie's mom Allison Emerson said.

Kids from all over Kansas, as well as 10 kids from China and South Korea, were chosen for the program. They'll stay in a special dorm on-campus and take classes with other college students. At the end of the two-year KAMS program, they'll walk away with 68 college credit hours.

It won't be all work though; Patrick, Katie and the other high schoolers in the program are allowed to venture off-campus and participate in NCAA activities, as well as intra-murals. They'll be in a tight-knit community and will be watched over by adults.

KAMS kids are able to visit home on weekends and school breaks, just like all other college kids do. Katie and Patrick both have cars to make the three-hour long drive from Fort Hays back home to Topeka.

Katie and Patrick say their friends at Shawnee Heights have questions about college life, just as they do.

"For the most part their like, why would you ever want to do that?" Patrick said.

Katie said her friends are in disbelief she is leaving.

"Some of the kids I've talked to at school are like, are you going to go party?" she said, "and I'm just like, no."

Katie is going to miss the numerous activities she's involved in at high school, but is anticipating meeting new kids. She said she's planning on visiting home as often as she can.

With just a summer left to go before the two arrive at Fort Hays to meet a whole new world of people, they're enjoying time with friends and family, and looking forward to the future.

"I think it's going to be fun!"


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