Aiken Scholars Academy to hold information meetings for 2019-20 freshman class

November 29, 2018

The 50 ninth-graders at the Aiken Scholars Academy haven’t finished their first semester, but the Aiken County Public School District’s newest high school already is looking for next year’s freshman class.

The academy will hold an information meeting for prospective students and their parents and guardians from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Room 106 of USC Aiken’s Penland Building. Other meetings will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and Jan. 15, 2019, in the mezzanine in USCA’s Student Activities Center.

A partnership between the school district and USCA, the Aiken Scholars Academy offers advanced students academically challenging coursework in a college setting. The academy opened in August.

During the first two years, the students from across the county take four block classes in USCA’s Ruth Patrick Science Education Center. During their junior and senior years, the students take classes with USCA students, are taught by USCA professors and earn college credit.

Principal Martha Messick said after a few expected “growing pains” associated with starting a new school the year got off to a “great start.”

“The scholars – we try not to call them students anymore because we want to engage them as scholars from here on out to distinguish them from students at a traditional high school – are acclimating to the new environment,” Messick said. “We’ve been able to develop extracurricular activities already and have seven clubs that are active and running. Academically, the students are doing really well.”

Messick said the students are adjusting to the accelerated learning.

“They’re rising to the challenges,” Messick said. “Of course, they’ve been challenged in their previous schools, but the pace we ask them to work at is much more advanced and much quicker because of the nature of the block scheduling. They’re acclimating very well.”

Messick called the partnership with USCA “amazing.”

Students have access to all of the university’s resources, including the math and writing labs, other tutoring services and the library. Students can attend all university events and will be the special guests at a Pacer basketball game on Scholars Day in December.

“USC Aiken has been wonderful,” Messick said. “Anything we need, they offer us. They extend a welcome to our students and our families.”

Messick attributed much of the academy’s success to its faculty.

“The scholars really are very fortunate,” Messick said. “We have four amazing master teachers. Together, they have 63 years of teaching experience.

“They have a real gift for their craft. They know how to reach the students. They know how to challenge them. They know how to push them far enough so that learning is taking place daily. It’s just a joy to go in and observe them.”

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