Shalini Balagopal should be a junior.
However, this June, when the graduating class of 2012 departs Leesville Road for the last time as students, Balagopal will be among them. After due consideration, Balagopal decided to forego her senior year and graduate from high school in three years.
“The main reason I wanted to graduate early was because I knew I only needed two credits to graduate,” said Balagopal. “If I had come back, I would have felt like I was wasting a year of my life. Now, I can go out and deal with the other, better opportunities that await me.”
When Balagopal first decided to explore early graduation, she still planned on coming to LRHS for at least the first half of her senior year. Said Balagopal, “I didn’t know it was possible to skip your entire senior year when I first thought of the idea, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise.”
Getting out of high school a year early may seem like the dream scenario for most high schoolers, but the process has actually required her to do more work this semester. “Because English IV is a graduation requirement, I’m taking Spanish III online right now, so I’ve got five classes right now,” said Balagopal.
During her “gap year,” Balagopal plans to work as a way to save up for her future. “I plan to spend most of my time working and investigating colleges,” said Balagopal.
Speaking of colleges, Balagopal has high hopes; she hopes to attend college in either the United Kingdom or the Netherlands. “The schools in the UK and the Netherlands have incredibly well-respected programs for creative technology, which is what I would want to study,” said Balagopal. “Not only that, but getting to know the cultures of those countries would be such a unique experience.”
Looking back, Balagopal realizes that while she has a great future ahead of her, she will be missing out on the average American high school experience. Said Balagopal, “I’m really looking forward to next year and the years after that, but I will miss Leesville. All of the friends, all of the memories and everything, I will always remember the three years I had here.”