Tim Stack
June 24, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

This fall marks the last year of high school for many of Glee‘s characters, including fan favorites Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith). But don’t expect these teens to become seven-year seniors. In an On Air With Ryan Seacrest radio interview June 17, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy told Seacrest that he plans to graduate many of the show’s characters next May, at the end of season 3. ”I don’t think of it in terms of eliminating or replacing [people],” said Murphy. ”We didn’t want to have a show where they were in high school for eight years.” Meanwhile, Oxygen’s The Glee Project — a reality-show competition that Murphy participates in as an exec producer and judge — is attempting to find fresh talent for a seven-episode stint on the Fox hit. (Murphy stressed that Matthew Morrison‘s Mr. Schuester and Jane Lynch‘s Sue Sylvester will stick around.) It’s still unclear whether the seniors will leave Glee after graduation; the season 2 finale teased Rachel possibly heading to New York. It seems the cast is in the dark too: Monteith tells EW that he has no idea what Murphy has planned for season 3. That said, the actor admits, ”I can’t stay in high school forever.”

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