PICKENS COUNTY — The 2018 school year could see a charter school as an offering for students and parents, giving students the opportunity to attain two years worth of college credit by graduation.
Clearview Collegiate Academy, so named for local ties, could open its doors in August 2018 should there be enough parent/student interest with the curriculum geared to preparing students for college through ACT/SAT prep work, college style class schedules, and dual credit that can be applied to any in-state institution.
“This will be one of the first grade 6 through 12 school of its kind in the state, offering advancement opportunities at the high school level and a unique, singularly unique, middle school structure seen nowhere else,” said Traci Bryant-Riches, head of new school development for Pinnacle Charter Management, said. “All students will take Career and Technical Education, but as they reach the high school level, 11th grade, their schedule will be much like a class schedule in college. Students will attend class from 8-12 or 12:30-4:30 each day, leaving half the day for study, tutoring or athletic practices.”
The schedule is designed to help students prepare for the different world college presents, with freedom but a necessity to discipline their time schedules. By handling their time constraints before heading to college the success rate goes up, and with the right work ethic, two years of college will be completed at no cost.
“The whole point is to get these students up and running and ready for college before they ever graduate high school. We have a slogan, ‘We’re not college prep, we are college’,” Bryant-Riches said. “When they walk into college that first day, they will have a college transcript, not just a high school transcript.”
The model proposed for Clearview Collegiate Academy is already up and running in one school in South Carolina, Oceanside Collegiate Academy in Mt. Pleasant. A second, Gray Collegiate Academy in Columbia, is set to open in the fall. According to Todd Helms, executive director with Gray, the combination of schedules for classes, the success rate of students, and the success of student-athletes speaks for itself.
“These college credits are guaranteed to transfer to any in-state college across the board. That’s 60 hours of college credit. And the ability to have all athletic practices complete by 5 p.m., kids home and homework done so much earlier than say 11 or 11:30 like most schools, helps these kids excel,” Helms said. “We have a basketball player who has 60 credits, is set to graduate, and is having to decide which Ivy League school he wants to attend. Some of these students were average at their old school, and now, with this structure they are well above average.”
The capacity of students for Clearview is slated to be 600 high school students and 400 middle school students. The teachers are state certified, except for the collegiate level courses that have to be approved by USC-Union leaders.
USC-Union is the accrediting college for the courses and they all qualify for the state college curriculum as a result.
Tenth-graders who are excelling academically will be offered the opportunity to take college courses as well, but it is students who are juniors and seniors who will be practicing the schedule and expected responsibility.
According to Helms, free tutoring is always available and optional to those scoring well, but mandatory for students who may be struggling within a course or subject. Special education students are welcome as well as programs will be in place to meet their academic needs.
Helms and Bryant-Riches, both working for Pinnacle Charter management out of Florida, have funding for a building and facilities, the downfall of other recent charter school attempts. All they need are the parents and students who are interested.
A series of meetings will be held to gather interest to submit to the state for its charter, all based on possible participation, which is open to any eligible student in the state. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 7 at Smithfield Country Club in Easley.
For more information, those interested in joining the planning committee, or to have questions answered, contact Bryant-Riches at 803-665-2011 or Betty Roe at 864-630-0447.
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.