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Scholastic sisters

Keely girls begin college younger and younger

Keely girls begin college younger and younger

April 03, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

With just five years separating the three oldest Keely girls, a little competition is inevitable.

It seems that vying to be the youngest Hagerstown Community College graduate runs in the family.

Diana, 13, said she is on track to finish faster than either of her older sisters.

"I'm hoping to do it before I'm 14," she said recently.

Diana's oldest sister, Sarah, 18, said she graduated from HCC two years ago, just short of her 16th birthday. Colleen, 16, said she earned her first associate degree from HCC at the age of 15 years, 9 months.

Diana became the latest Keely girl to join Phi Theta Kappa, an international honorary society for distinguished two-year college students, during a ceremony March 26 at HCC's Kepler Theater.

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"I've really enjoyed college. I've had some really nice teachers and so many interesting subjects," said Diana, who has attended HCC since the age of 12 and a few months.

Diana, Colleen, Sarah and their younger sister, 7-year-old Carissa, live in Hagerstown, where they have been homeschooled by their parents, Bill and Jeannie Keely.

For Carissa, a second-grader who talked for several minutes about the history of 16th-century ruler Charles V, the sisters' achievements have set a high bar. She said she wants to begin classes at HCC at the age of 9.

"I want to beat everyone," Carissa explained.

Bill Keely said he was worried at first about how Sarah, the oldest of his daughters, would handle being around people so much older than herself.

"It wasn't her decision. I didn't want her going to a four-year college when she was 15. I wanted her to wait until she was 16," Bill Keely said.

The girls, who spoke during an interview with poise and humor, said the age differences have caused few problems.

"With the education, I think HCC prepared me really well," said Sarah, who joked her father had "held back" her and Colleen. She said she plans to graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in math from Hood College.

"As far as the other differences, such as the social differences, that just didn't come up much," Sarah said.

Once, in a French class where students were learning to say how old they are, Diana said an instructor called on her, then repeated the question in disbelief. She caught a few stares, she said.

She and her sisters have been involved in Bible and geography quiz competitions, and Diana said she enjoys spending time with people her own age. Like most 13-year-old girls, she said she likes to talk.

She and her sisters said they still are plotting their educational futures.

In the fall, both of Diana's older sisters will go off to four-year schools. Colleen said she plans to study literature at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., while Sarah said she finally gets the chance to move away from home - as a graduate student at Wheaton College in Illinois, where she plans to pursue teaching English to foreign speakers and intercultural studies.

Diana said she still is unsure what she'll do.

"I'm not very set with my future. I don't have many things that I strongly dislike, but I don't have too many things that I really like," she said.

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