Gaston High senior Aubrey Jarvis will graduate two years ahead of schedule

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Sixteen-year-old Aubrey Jarvis stands on the steps of Marsh Hall at Pacific University in Forest Grove. Shes poised to graduate from Gaston High School this June, two years ahead of schedule. Shes taken all the advanced placement classes Gaston High has to offer and is taking literature at Pacific.Many 15-year-olds might think it a dream come true to have a driver’s license and the freedom to hit the road without mom or dad tagging along.

Aubrey Jarvis was 15 when she got her license, but instead of heading to rock concerts or shopping malls, Jarvis headed for Pacific University classrooms.

The Gaston High School senior completed most of her high school core requirements last school year and is getting college credits this year at Pacific through an agreement between the university and her home school district.

The problem was, Jarvis had to get herself from Gaston to Forest Grove, and she was only 15. That’s where the provisional driver’s license came in.

Driving legally at 15 is just one way Jarvis stands out. She has been on a fast academic track since kindergarten and at just 16, will graduate from high school and begin college.

“Her preschool teacher told us to alert the school,” said Aubrey’s mother, Chrissy Jarvis.

Aubrey was reading at a fourth-grade level in kindergarten. “I actually hated kindergarten because I only got to go to school for half a day,” Aubrey said.

Her higher level of academic progress became clear to her first-grade teacher, who tested Jarvis a year ahead of schedule for the Talented and Gifted program. Sure enough, Aubrey tested in the top 1 percent of pupils her age. She and her parents were given the choice to have her skip second grade, which she did.

‘Pretty normal’

“Grade school was pretty normal for me,” Aubrey recalled recently in a coffee shop just before her college class.

By the time she got to sixth grade, she was heading to Gaston High for English class, easy to do in the small town of Gaston, because all the schools are on the same campus.

“Romeo and Juliet” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” might seem like pretty heavy reading for an 11-year-old, but she did well in her class and understood the themes of classic literature.

“She was an anomaly,” said Christina Schulz, who taught Aubrey freshman English. Schulz was in her second year of teaching when Aubrey showed up in her class. “It was a little baffling.”

But Schulz says Aubrey’s work was never anything but outstanding.

The literature and concepts in a ninth-grade English class are “not something a normal 11-year-old would grasp,” Schulz said. “She met every expectation. Oftentimes she set the standard in the class.”

Aubrey took high school coursework in seventh grade, including English, social studies and math, and by the time she was actually high school-age, she had enough credits to be a sophomore.

After finishing most of the high school’s advanced-placement courses last year, she “skipped” her junior year and became a senior this year, at age 15.

Second term at Pacific

Last school year was tough for Aubrey. Although she was only 14, her friends in the graduating class of 2012 were busy making plans to go off to college. “I kept thinking, ‘Who am I going to hang out with this year?’” Aubrey said.

But obstacles don’t slow her down. She’s now taking her second term of literature at Pacific: an intensive study of Oscar Wilde. “I’m really enjoying it,” she said.

Aubrey turned 16 on March 1.

In many ways, she is a typical teenager. What’s the first thing she did on her 16th birthday? She went and got her official driver’s license.

She also had a birthday surpise. She found out she’s been accepted to Chemeketa Community College next year on a full scholarship through the college’s scholars program. She’ll attend school at the McMinnville campus and live at home.

Chrissy Jarvis encourages her daughter to take things one week at a time. This week, “I want to be an English teacher,” Aubrey quipped. Next week, who knows. “Now I just want to be 18.”

Aubrey views next year as a year to explore her interests. She loves literature, languages and travel. “At Chemeketa, I’m hoping to take either Russian or American Sign Language, but Swedish and Norwegian are a big interest to me as well.” Some day she hopes to pair her love of languages with world travel.

Is there any subject Aubrey doesn’t like?

“I’m not a big fan of math,” she admitted. I’m only a fan when I understand it.”

The oldest of three siblings, Aubrey now sees that the road through school was not always easy.

While her outstanding academic work and fast pace through school are “self-imposed challenges,” she says, she often was teased about being smart, even by people she considered friends.

“I had to learn to be comfortable with myself. For a while I didn’t want to be intelligent, because I thought it was a disadvantage,” she said.

She credits her teachers for helping her through the tough stuff. “The teachers are also my mentors and my friends. I feel secure that I can talk to them about anything,” she noted.

Aubrey’s mom agrees that the small school atmosphere at Gaston was the key to her success.

The school provided a lot of oppportunity and flexibility. “You can succeed at a small school,” said Chrissy.

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