MTSU, Blackman Collegiate Academy applaud student achievement at pinning ceremony

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MTSU University Provost Mark Byrnes, right, shakes the hand of Blackman Collegiate Academy student Cassidy Elliott during the third annual Pinning Ceremony held Tuesday, Oct. 10, in the Blackman High School Auditorium. At front left is Blackman Principal Leisa Justus. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

MTSU and Blackman High School marked another milestone in its unique partnership with a special ceremony for a group of students enrolled in the Collegiate Academy at the Murfreesboro high school.

Held in the BHS Auditorium Tuesday evening, the third annual Pinning Ceremony celebrated almost 100 students, primarily sophomores, who had successfully completed a year of the academy while also introducing 60 academy seniors who are working on capstone research projects to complete the college preparatory program.

Launched in 2015, the Blackman Collegiate Academy includes a special partnership between MTSU and Blackman that allows eligible juniors and seniors to take up to six hours of university courses taught at Blackman by MTSU instructors at no cost. The credits will count on high school and college transcripts.


MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes, keynote speaker for the event, applauded the students for accepting the academic challenge the academy presents and thanked Blackman for allowing the university to sign on as a partner.

"In return what we hope is that you take a very close look at MTSU as your home for college," said Byrnes, an MTSU alumnus himself. "Any group of students willing to go the extra mile ... and do the extra work that is required at this academy, it tells me that you're smart, you're determined and you'll do well in college."


Byrnes noted that he was "a Murfreesboro kid" who like many others at that time didn't initially consider attending MTSU because of its close proximity, but also like many others came to discover that he could have every sort of college experience at MTSU "just like everywhere else."

He encouraged students to register for and attend the upcoming Nov. 4 Preview Day on campus when they take tours given by student guides, learn about departments, programs and student organizations, and meet faculty and staff from academic areas and the MTSU Division of Student Affairs.

Blackman High Principal Leisa Justus and Assistant Principal Ken Reed, Collegiate Academy coordinator, thanked the many parents in attendance for supporting students "who've chosen to challenge themselves to do more."

"This academy is going to open doors for these students, we can guarantee you that," Justus said.

Before administrators presented the underclassmen with their special pins, this year's Collegiate Academy seniors introduced themselves and shared the wide variety of research topics underway, ranging from childhood obesity to social media use and from animal abuse to green energy.

BHS senior Amyia Davis drew applause from the attendees when she noted that the current senior class of the academy had taken more than 1,210 advanced courses, had an average GPA of 3.78 and an average ACT score of 27.75.

For more information about the Blackman Collegiate Academy, visit and click on the "Academics" tab.

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