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14-year-old Augusta girl set to graduate high school an attend Paine College

June 12, 2019

At the age many students are finishing their first year of high school, 14-year-old Charleston Lee will begin her first full year of college.

The C.H. Terrell Academy senior will graduate as valedictorian Friday, and begin studying full time at Paine College in the fall. She has been dual-enrolled at the college for the past two years.

Charleston has been attending the independent private school her grandmother founded since she was 3 years old.

She isn't old enough for a driver's license, but between her classes she tutors other college students on math. Charleston's plan is to graduate from Paine with a degree in mathematics by the time she is 16, then pursue her masters at Augusta University. She hopes to work with Google when she finishes her education.

Her mother, Kimberly, said she's proud of her daughter's success.

"I never know what Charleston is going to come up with," she said. "Words just can't describe how proud I am of her because she's a good kid and she's sweet."

After reading a book on Martin Luther King Jr. in fourth grade and learning that he graduated high school at 15, Charleston decided she wanted to graduate early. She skipped grades seven, eight, and 11 thanks to her natural aptitude for academics.

She is also a gifted musician, and played trumpet with J.A.M.P., the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils when she was younger. During her time with the group, she performed with artists such as Prince, Sharon Jones and Bootsy Collins.

With her mother as principal, and her grandmother as the founder and a teacher, Charleston said some students might think she gets special treatment. But her grandmother Rebecca Terrell-Dent said she pushes her granddaughter harder than others.

"Charleston has been the type of student who always liked school, always liked to read," Terrell-Dent said. "Even at three years of age you could see that she was thinking differently than the other kids."

But Charleston said she doesn't feel special. She enjoys being around the college students and said she looks forward to pursuing her goals after high school, no matter her age.

"I just think of myself as a regular kid, just in college with different people," she said.

By Sarah LeBlanc of The Augusta Chronicle Posted Jun 10, 2019 at 5:02 PM Updated Jun 10, 2019 at 5:02 PM

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