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Decatur, Illinois — Decatur Public Schools is excited to announce The Prep Academy, a new partnership with Richland Community College, offering DPS students the opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree at the same time they’re earning their high school diploma.

“We are very excited about offering this innovative new program that’s only for DPS students,” said Dr. Paul Fregeau, Superintendent of Decatur Public Schools. “The Prep Academy has been in the works for nearly two years now. I’m very proud to see this amazing opportunity come to fruition for our students.”

Students accepted into the program will earn a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree from Richland Community College upon completion of the four-year program during high school. The program is free of charge to Decatur Public Schools students, meaning they will earn a college degree without having to pay for it.

“The leadership team and staff at Richland Community College have been wonderful partners in the creation of this program,” said Ashley Grayned, Executive Director of Innovative Programs and Strategic Planning for Decatur Public Schools. “To be able to earn a college degree, for free, while completing a high school education is an option that’s not available in all districts. The fact that we’re now offering it in Decatur Public Schools will give our students a competitive edge for both future college and career opportunities.”

Prep Academy classes will be taught by both Decatur Public Schools teachers and Richland Community College instructors.

“This is an exciting opportunity for DPS students, and I know our teachers are excited as well to be a part of helping our students earn college credits while they’re in high school,” said Chrissy Petitt, President of the Decatur Education Association.

The Prep Academy is now accepting applications for the 2021-2022 school year for incoming freshmen. There is no charge to apply or to participate in the program, but space is limited. Parents of incoming freshmen who are interested in the program must also register and attend one of the parent informational sessions, scheduled on the following dates:

  • ●  Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
  • ●  Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
  • ●  Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
  • ●  Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.Interested students must complete and submit an application, along with all required documents, including a letter of recommendation and a five paragraph essay, by March 31, 2021. To learn more about the program and register for one of the parent informational sessions, go

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