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The pros and cons of early high school graduation

   Two students plan to graduate from Buffalo's Burgard High School in just three years, giving them an early start on their college studies and career plans.

   City school officials view that development as a positive not only for the students --  Kiara Taggart and Michael Conrath -- but for Burgard as well.

   They say it reflects an expanded menu of course offerings there, an increase in instructional time, the elimination of study halls, the growth of extracurricular activities and higher expectations for students.

   But while educators applaud the drive and determination of students like Kiara and Michael, they say careful thought should be given to the broader issue of early high school graduations.

   Are individuals students mature enough to handle the demands of college or work a year earlier than normal? Are they better off staying in high school a fourth year to tackle extra courses and opportunities for career exploration? Is it worth missing out on senior prom, class trips and sharing graduation day with classmates?

   When the issue arises in some of the area's larger suburban high schools, the advice from educators is often to stay for the fourth year.

   Both Kiara and Michael are eager to graduate early, and Burgard Principal Florence Krieter said they are in a position to succeed.

   "In the case of these two young people, we believe they're ready to go to college," she said. "They're prepared."

   What are your thoughts about early high school graduation?

   -- Peter Simon

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