While most graduates will only be participating in one commencement this May, Erica Johnson will be in two.
She graduated from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky earlier in May and she walked with North Bullitt High graduates this past weekend.
The academy is located on the main campus of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. The school was designed to give high school juniors and seniors a jump start on college. Most graduates complete more than 60 hours of college credit while attending the school.
Johnson, a North Bullitt student, applied to the academy her sophomore year in high school because she was "bored" with her current school, but she was also interested to see if she could get accepted.
"Plus I knew about the scholarships that would happen if I made it in," she said.
Next year Johnson,17, will be attending the University of Louisville on a scholarship. She will be majoring in biology and chemistry.
Johnson said she wasn't sure what she wanted to pursue before she went to Gatton, but now she knows she wants to attend medical school.
"In high school you don't really get to have that hands-on experience," she said. "At Gatton, you can do research."
Johnson said attending Gatton was challenging for her, but not because of the classes. Adjusting to the new social environment was the hardest task, she said.
"It's not what you think, we are all normal for the most part," Johnson said.
She graduated with 64 hours of college credit.
Johnson is the only student graduating this year from North Bullitt to have taken part in Gatton Academy. And even though she has attended the academy for the last two years, she is still considered a student at North Bullitt so she was able to attend prom and play on their sports teams if she wanted to.
Johnson said she's thankful for her experience at Gatton because it has better prepared her for college next year.
"I can't even imagine going to college in the fall and not knowing (what to expect)," she said. "That would be scary but I know now and it's not scary at all."
Aside from adapting to new social situations, Johnson said she also gleaned knowledge about how to put together her schedule correctly from her experience which she hopes utilize the next couple of years.