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Early College Academy Class of 2019 College Signing Day

Mrs. Mary Nicoloni


Today (Friday, May 10) was a big day for Penn’s Early College Academy Class of 2019 … this morning the Academy hosted its first-ever College Signing Day for the graduating seniors; and this evening those students who earned enough college credits to receive their Associate of General Studies (AGS) degrees or Statewide Transfer General Education Core (STGEC) will have the opportunity to walk in Ivy Tech Community College’s Commencement Ceremonies at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion.


At the time of Commencement (June 7, 2019) The ECA Class of 2019 is expected to include:

  • 100 total students

  • 50 earning AGS degrees thru Ivy Tech 

  • an additional 34 earning STGECs

  • 14 earning at least 15 college credits or more

  • 2 will have earned less than 15 college credits


This was big cause for celebration! So the ECA faculty organized today’s College Signing Day not only to honor and recognize the accomplishments of the 2nd cohort’s, but also to show the freshman, sophomore and junior ECA students how all their hard work will eventually pay off and be worth it! P-H-M Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker was also on hand to congratulate the students on their success.​ Click to see the full photo gallery below.


PHM Supt. Dr. Jerry Thacker Early College students Early College students


The Signing Day was the brainchild of Mrs. Sarah Dwigans, ECA English teacher, who wanted “to create a ‘positive defining moment’ that served as a rite of passage for the seniors, as well as one that planted a seed of inspiration in the underclassmen.” She got the idea from a book “The Power of Moments.” The result was a touching display of heartfelt thankfulness and gratitude and a tremendous sense of accomplishment. 


Mrs. Sarah Dwigans being thanked by her students
Mrs. Sarah Dwigans being thanked by her students


ECA English Teacher Mrs. Mary Nicolini served as the “emcee” injecting lots of humor and plenty of hugs! Eleven graduating seniors were invited to speak and share not only their college or career plans after Penn, but also answering the question “How did the Early College Academy help you get here today?” The featured students included those who earned college credit and are pursuing their higher education careers at colleges and universities such as Purdue University Fort Wayne, Ball State, Bethel University, Michigan State University, and Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.


Mrs. Mary Nicolini hugs student Mrs. Mary Nicolini with all 11 students who spoke


The other students who spoke included one going into the Marines, another who will be doing an apprenticeship with the Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and another who is going to work for the National Park Service in Yellowstone. Click to see a full listing of the Class of 2019 and their college and career plans after graduating from Penn.


The seniors who spoke shared their fond memories of ECA, gave shout-outs to their friends, thanked their teachers and of course gave the underclassmen some words of wisdom and advice about school … “stick with it, it’s all going to be worth it, and Early College got me where I am today!”


At the end all 91 members of the Class of 2019 got on stage to commemorate their achievement and to thank not only Mrs. Dwigans for organizing today’s “ceremony,” but to thank all of their ECA teachers!


Early College Academy students


It was clear that all the ECA students, and faculty alike, are truly a family!


To download high resolution jpg files from the photo gallery below, just simply click the “DOWNLOAD” button on the bottom right-hand corner of the photo while viewing it in the Photo Gallery function. We are happy to provide this service to you free of charge.