Trinidad State News

For these two high school students, college degrees will come first

Valley Campus / February 3, 2015


Do you know anyone who has graduated with a college degree before graduating with a high school degree? Two brothers who moved with their family to Antonito in July will accomplish that feat on May 8 when both of them will walk at the Trinidad State graduation in Alamosa after earning Associate of Arts degrees. Taylor Bollinger will then graduate high school 14 days later. His brother, Jonah, is currently a junior in high school and will continue college classes next year as he works toward his bachelor’s degree.

Both young men began taking college classes at Trinidad State in Trinidad while attending Primero High School. Their father, who was the Principal/Superintendent of Primero at that time, had encouraged, not only his sons, but other students as well, to begin college while still in high school. Because Colorado school districts contribute to the tuition costs for these college classes, it can represent a considerable savings.

“Our dad has always supported us in our educational endeavors,” said Jonah Bollinger. “He’s always pushed us to excel. The concurrent courses they have now are a great opportunity.” Concurrent courses are college classes taken while in high school. Dual credits are earned for both high school and college. Jonah took 18 college credit hours his sophomore year, along with some high school courses and participated in four different sports that year. “We’re very competitive,” said Jonah. “We play all the sports we can. We want to win in everything. We want the best in everything we do – in sports, in school and in life.”

“They are very hard working young men,” their mom Tammy, said. “Their dad and I are very proud of them. They have brought themselves to this point. All we ask is that they do their best.” With eight children ages five through 19 with Taylor being the oldest, Tammy explained, “It has been a family team effort. Taylor and Jonah are setting a great example for their younger siblings.”

“We’ve got the drive because we know how important education is, how much it can excel us in our lives,” said Jonah. “Being able to get that education in early is a big plus for us.” The brothers will be taking both chemistry and biology together when those classes begin in February. In addition to these two courses, Taylor is taking sociology and Computer Information Systems. ”I want to become a math and science teacher,” said Taylor, “and move on to administration after that. It seems like a really good job to work with kids and get time off to spend with your family. It seems like a pretty solid job.” To help prepare himself for this role Taylor took college algebra and trigonometry his sophomore year in high school and then calculus his junior year. He is waiting for a reply to his application to attend college at Brigham Young University in Rexburg, Idaho.

Jonah said, “First, I want to graduate college and then finish my high school career. I want to major in business and get my bachelor’s and then my master’s, but I’m not too sure what I want to do with that yet.”

Both brothers took speech from Trinidad State Instructor Dale Barron who said, “They both gave great speeches with some interesting perspectives. They supported logically what their positions were. I enjoyed having them in class.”

“Jonah is an exceptional young man and student. To be so young in getting his associates degree is fantastic,” said Instructor Lisa Pridemore-Cox. “His quality of work is as good, or better, than any college student that I’ve had.”

Bonnie Ortega, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Trinidad State, said, “Taylor and Jonah are inspiring examples of what students can accomplish if they put their minds to it and are willing to work.”

“The reason our sons are having so much success is that they are self-driven,” said Jeff Bollinger who is the new Superintendent at Antonito High school. “This year more Antonito students are taking college courses than ever before. TSJC is an incredible partner. They are easy to work with. They create a financial environment that allows local school districts to implement these (concurrent) programs. If you can get high school kids involved in college classes, they’re more likely to go to college.” This semester the Trinidad State Valley Campus has about 325 high school students taking concurrent courses. Traditionally juniors and seniors in high school can take concurrent courses, but some school districts allow sophomores to take them.

To learn more, talk with a high school counselor or call Trinidad State at 719-589-7131 or 7050.