SHS sophomore drops out to attend Bard College Maria Bryant knew her daughter Carly was a gifted student when she was just six years old in the first grade and had written her first book. Mrs. Bryant remembers receiving a phone call from Carly's teacher explaining that she had written a book unlike anyone else in her class. "The students were to write a little story and you know they would write a little sentence on a couple of pages and she would bind it. When I got there she had this book. I was like, 'Mrs. Gugliotti, you did this right?' and she said, 'Absolutely not. All I did was type it. Your daughter did this.'" The parents were all in disbelief. Carly's teacher, Mrs. Gugliotti, encouraged Mrs. Bryant to nurture Carly's gift for education and let it take her as far as possible in life. "We went to see her first grade teacher because she was back at Long Hill years later and she saw us and started sobbing," said Mrs. Bryant. "She was sobbing saying, 'I told you this' and I said, 'You did.'" Now 16 in her sophomore year of high school, Carly and her mom just signed the papers granting her permission to drop out of SHS in order to continue her education at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Massachusetts. Most 16- year-olds are thinking of getting their driver's license. Well, Carly is doing that while preparing for her freshman year of college. Carly found out she had been accepted into Bard College at Simon's Rock in April. "I didn't believe it, it was a good day," said Carly. "I knew I had a good chance because their acceptance rate is near 89% so I knew I could get in but I didn't know it would actually happen." In October of 2015, Carly found out through a friend she could begin her college career without finishing her final two years of high school. "Ever since then, I saw myself there (Bard College)," said Carly. "I didn't see myself graduating high school and staying there two more years. I've never been into a lot of the social activities at school. I've always been more friends with the teachers than the students and I've always had older friends. I really didn't feel like I was losing much by not going to prom or things like that." Carly said she was attracted to Bard, not only because they accepted her early application, but because of the intimate classroom size and the small overall freshman class size of just 400 students. The college's average class size is 11 students and that is what Carly is accustomed to because of her participation in the Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) in New Haven. "I was a part of the creative writing department made up of 32 students and was in a class of 15 students," said Carly. "I like the extra attention you're able to get from the teachers. You really get to know each other." Carly said she believes the relationships she builds with teachers\/professors is part of what made a difference in the student she is currently and who she is striving to become. "I know that if I attend Bard I will be able to become the scholar that I wanted to be, not just in the area of creative writing ,which I want to pursue, but also with math and things like that, which I'm not as good at but would like to be." Carly has a passion for all types of writing. In ECA, she took a liking to writing creative nonfiction pieces of work which she didn't get an opportunity to do in high school. She credits her parents for a lot of her early successes in school and said she is thankful they give her the space she needs in order to expand her thinking. "It's pretty amazing and I am very fortunate because I know a lot of people whose parents don't understand the value of the arts, so it's really nice to have parents who have no problem with me doing what I want," said Carly. "They made the road much easier." Carly received nearly $40,000 in scholarships from Bard, which makes paying the $67,000 a year for the school feasible. Mrs. Bryant said there was no way they were turning down that money and they realized the school was investing in her daughter. When she's not burying her head in the books or keeping busy in the classroom, Carly said she enjoys hanging out in Barnes and Nobles with friends and going to thrift shops. Carly said she has been learning a lot about herself and her priorities are comprised of doing what makes her happy. While at SHS she said she felt as though she was living a "double life," going from high school to unwinding at ECA. Considering she already knew she had aspirations of continuing her education and realizing her passion for writing early on, she became very comfortable "not fitting in." "My english teacher at SHS told me freshman year not to 'put my light out,'" said Carly. While attending Bard, Carly said she looks forward to exploring the world of screenwriting and has already enrolled in a course. She said in the future she could see herself publishing a collection of stories, essays or poetry in the form of a book. Mrs. Bryant said she could do anything she sets her mind to and "the sky's the limit." Carly said she will have to obtain a GED on her own time, but Bard will provide transportation to any and all of the courses she would need to take. She said she's not sure of how long it will take to get her GED. She said over the course of the last few weeks, the thought of the change from high school to college has become more real. She's currently nervous, but is confident she will accomplish her goals of becoming a more accomplished writer. ECA is letting her graduate with the seniors and gave her a certificate even though she didn't complete the four years. Carly said she is unsure of what her next move will be after completing two years at Bard and she is currently weighing her options. She could stay at Bard for two years, get her associate's degree and transfer to another college or stay for four years and earn her bachelor's in fine arts. She said she can see herself sticking with the first option because she has always done well with quick transitions and loves new opportunities to learn. One thing is for certain, Carly Bryant has a hunger for a constant feed of education.