November 13, 2013 Edition

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WR senior ahead of
the game for college

Edward Harthorn is a senior at Walnut Ridge High School. He has been taking classes at Williams Baptist College since eighth grade and will graduate from high school with 60 hours of college credit.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Edward Harthorn, a senior at Walnut Ridge High School, is doing what many high school seniors do. He's filling out college applications, thinking about his future and planning for his high school graduation. However, Edward's first year of college will be quite different from many students' first year because he will be entering with 60 hours of college credit already under his belt.

Edward has been taking concurrent credit since eighth grade and is taking 16 hours at Williams Baptist College this fall alone.

"He is one of the most focused high school students I've ever seen," said Debbie Findley, WRHS counselor.

Racking up an impressive amount of college credit is not all Edward has managed to pull off during his high school years. He said one of his favorite experiences was presenting an original academic paper at the weeklong Cooper Conference and Seminar in New York this part summer.

His paper, which will be published sometime next year, was an analysis of "The Crater" by James Fenimore Cooper and was well received by other scholars at the conference. Edward is the youngest scholar to ever participate in this event at the age of 17.

The age gap wasn't a deterrent for him though. "I've gotten used to being the youngest in a lot of things I do," he said.

This feeling first became apparent when Edward took his first college class in eighth grade. The class, history of math, under Professor Lana Rhoads, was a junior level course causing a six-year age gap between him and many other students in the class.

Edward, not to mention the college students in class with him, was forced to adapt to this unusual situation but he said that it really wasn't a terrible transition and that everybody was very kind.

Looking at finishing up the equivalent of his sophomore year in college, Edward has taken classes in a variety of subjects. Classes he's taken include theater, art appreciation, psychology, Bible history, American government, calculus and philosophy.

He also enrolled in some composition courses under his father, Steven Harthorn. "He showed no partiality to me or anyone else and he certainly made it as hard on me as everyone else in the class," Edward said.

Wading through all of these subjects and trying to determine which is his favorite is not something that comes easy to Edward. Though he plans on majoring in history, he really is unsure of what he wants to do with his life, if he wants to go to graduate school or even which college he plans on attending after he graduates in the spring.

One thing Edward does to help keep his mind clear when planning for the future or when he is under stress from a full college workload is run. He has been on the WRHS track team since ninth grade and started cross-country in 10th grade.

"It's a good stress reliever. It helps build your endurance and pacing is everything," Edward said in regards to running. "It's just like college."

Edward also spends time biking when he can. He rode his bicycle from WBC to WRHS everyday for two years but now, since he is full time at Williams, he doesn't get as much time pedaling as he used to.

It was 2005 when Edward and his family moved to Walnut Ridge from Knoxville, Tenn. Edward was in fourth grade at the time. He currently lives with his parents, Steven and Cathy, his sister, Caroline, and two brothers, Henry and Thomas, at the faculty housing at WBC.

Findley didn't start working with him until he reached ninth grade. "He is the most unassuming and selfless person. He never thinks of himself," she said.

"He's not one to brag or tell anyone about his success."

She said he really showed his commitment when it came to the recycling program he helped to start while working with the Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Class in 2012. After the class he continued to keep the program going.

"He almost ran it by himself. You'd see him in the mornings emptying out the recycling bins around campus," Findley said.

Edward said the Key Club has taken over the recycling efforts. "It's definitely made an impact and I hope it continues to serve the community."

When he's not studying for finals or running a marathon, Edward spends time gardening. "I enjoy growing all sorts of odd things like rhubarb, figs, and red okra."

Edward is an exceptional high school student as far as college credit goes, but many students at Walnut Ridge are getting the opportunity to take more college classes while there.

Findley said that students used to have to go off-site for college classes, but the school is now offering 18 hours of college credit in-house. Students who qualify can now take fine arts music, U.S. history, concepts of fitness, college algebra and freshman English while at WRHS. There are also plans to add a sophomore-level literature class and a science class in the future.

"Our students are working hard and they're finding out what college is like," she said. "It gives them a glimpse of the rigor at the college level."

Edward said he has experienced some of that rigor Findley spoke of. "It has been a challenge, but I believe it's worth it."

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