Local eighth grader skipping high school and going straight to college

Madison Sparks is going to college in Virginia

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By Daryl Bjoraas

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- She's not even old enough to drive, or stay out past the city's curfew.

"I'm going to miss people here; my family. It's going to be hard, because the first break isn't for six months," Madison Sparks said.

 But 14-year-old Sparks is already packing up, moving out of her parents' house, and heading off to college in four weeks.

This fall, Sparks is headed to Mary Baldwin College in Virginia.

 "They basically recruited me," Sparks said.

 As a seventh grader, Madison's I-STEP scores were so good that talent search programs allowed her to take college placement exams early.

But even those, were too easy.

"She could get into any state school, and several private schools just based off her seventh grade scores," Holly Sparks-Henderson, Madison's mother, said. "Assuming, she was old enough to go."

Sparks has her sights set on becoming a museum curator or a journalist. And for her family, sending their 14-year-old to another state is nerve-racking, but they are positive about it too.

 "Obviously, very, very proud," Sparks-Henderson said. "But definitely bittersweet counting down the days and going, 'Oh, let's figure out how to fit everything into this summer.'"

Even though this summer has been busy for her, Madison still hasn't given up on reading.

"If you try hard enough in school, you can have the opportunity too," Sparks said.

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