Marshall ISD’s newest campus just celebrated its first class of graduates in January.

The new Marshall Early Graduation School (MEGS), located at 1202 Evans Street, site of the former Washington Early Childhood Center, celebrated the graduation of 18 students, its first group of students to earn their diploma at the campus that opened its doors in August.

“We have exceeded my expectations for our first year so far,” MEGS Principal Tracie Robinson said on Thursday. “When I began recruiting students in the summer, I prayed for 30 students and got 100. For our first graduation, I hoped for 10 students and we had 18. The students are really outperforming what I expected and I’m proud of my staff for being positive everyday and motivating the students to learn by leading themselves.”

The campus serves students in grades seventh through twelfth grades and provides them an opportunity to have smaller class sizes for more one on one instruction time, and allows them to earn their required credits at a faster pace that allows for either early graduation, or a chance for students who are falling behind to catch back up.

“I was attending Marshall High School and heard about MEGS from a friend,” recent graduate Skylar Clark said on Thursday. “After my parents and I met with Dr. Robinson, I knew I wanted to go to MEGS. There are great teachers across Marshall ISD but she was just very encouraging and positive and I thought it would be great to get an early start on life by graduating early.”

Clark transferred to MEGS from MHS in the fall and graduated in January, a full four months before she was set to graduate high school.

“I immediately enrolled in East Texas Baptist University because I want to work with at risk students one day so Dr. Robinson mentored me and showed me I need to major in education and minor in psychology,” Clark said. “I’m now a full time student at ETBU and on the cheer team and acrobatics and tumbling team. While at MEGS, I also got to continue being on the cheer team so that meant a lot to me.”

Fellow recent graduate Alexis Cole said she too was encouraged by the positive atmosphere at MEGS and was also attracted by the small class sizes.

“We have about 10 students per class,” Robinson said.

Cole said the half day schedule also allowed her to continue her other responsibilities while continuing her education.

“I have responsibilities within my family and I have a job and because the classes were online, I could go at my own pace,” Cole said. “I took the morning session from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. everyday so I was able to leave and work after school. I also like the class sizes because there’s not too many students and the teachers are there to help you and encourage you.”

Cole said if hadn’t been for the option of MEGS, she doesn’t know if she would have graduated high school.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it but Dr. Robinson inspired me to keep going when I didn’t want to and I was so happy I cried when I graduated,” Cole said. “It’s a lot of work but it feels good. Dr. Robinson wouldn’t let me give up on myself.”

Now Robinson is serving 86 students at the campus and has about 100 on a waiting list.

“I meet with the parents and the student beforehand to see if MEGS is the right fit,” Robinson said. “We handle each student on a case by case basis because each individual is different.”

The campus is ideal for students who don’t do well in a traditional junior high or high school setting, who work, who are at risk of not graduating, who have children or students who just wish to graduate high school early, Robinson said.

“We are so grateful for the support of the district and the community,” Robinson said. “MEGS is something completely new and different and we are really helping students. Because this is so different, we have the opportunity to give students something they’ve never had before. The students here are learning to lead themselves while our teachers encourage them and monitor their progress.”

Students or parents interested in MEGS should contact the school for a meeting or an appointment by visiting the campus’ website at http://marshallisd.com/schools/marshall_early_graduation_school___m_e_g_s_