The importance of Gulf Coast State College to the education of Franklin County students was brought to life this spring, when six members of the Class of 2017 at Franklin County High School earned their associate's degree, just a few weeks ahead of when they earned their high school diplomas.

At commencement exercises May 5 at the Marina Civic Center in Panama City, six young ladies were handed the sheepskin that also handed them a head start on their future pursuit of college degrees.

Dr. Randy Hanna, the Florida State University - Panama City dean and former Florida College System chancellor, gave the commencement address.

Astrid G. Ramirez graduated magna cum laude; graduating cum laude were Holly Chambers, Alexis Segree and Allie Kirvin. Mallorie Shiver, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and Melody Hatfield also received their associate's degree, the result of two years of college work conducted while they were still in high school.