By skipping study halls in favor of extra classes and doubling up on his English courses, Tucker Childs, 17, received his South Portland High School diploma Sunday in just three years.

Childs, a transfer from Massabesic High School in Waterboro, said he was inspired to take the shortened route to graduation by his older sister, Alori3e Childs, who also graduated a year early with the class of 2006.

Childs said he found the opportunity to achieve a goal that isn’t usually met appealing.

“I saw the challenge and the benefits that could come from it and decided to go for it,” said Childs.

Childs describes this alternative way of getting a diploma as “kind of an untold option.” He said he opted to skip out of study halls, so welcomed by most students, in order to squeeze four years of courses into three. He also doubled up on English classes and took an independent study class.

“I really wanted to pursue college,” he said.

According to Childs, he had to prepare a statement outlining the reasons for his quest to graduate in three years in order to be approved.

Meg Quinn, Childs’s English and independent study teacher, said graduating in three years is not typical of South Portland High School students. In fact, it is not exactly encouraged by faculty.

“I really think it’s probably persistence on the part of the kid,” said Quinn.

Although he took on a more rigorous course load than his peers, Childs describes himself as an average student. And though Quinn agreed with this assessment in terms of studiousness, she said Childs is a gifted writer and “intellectually speaking, definitely above average.”

“He definitely has an ear and eye for detail. He has a pretty sophisticated understanding of human interaction,” said Quinn.

Childs has many interests, including writing poetry and fantasy stories, music and foreign language. He took a year-long course in German as a sophomore at Massabesic, where he learned the basics of German, and plans to continue studying it, as well as Japanese, at the University of Southern Maine next year before attending a four-year school.

Childs hopes to go on to study writing and English education at Boston University. He said he might like to teach English in Japan some day.

Quinn said Childs was well liked by the student body, despite the fact that he had to catch up to his classmates.

“He’s so likeable, and I think it’s one of his greatest strengths,” said Quinn.


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