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The Lancaster County School District is partnering with the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce this school year for a new leadership program for high school juniors.
School board members were introduced to the new program during their July 15 meeting, a meeting in which they also received an update on a new expansion underway of the school district’s Head Start program.
Lancaster County Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore invited Chamber of Commerce President Dean Faile to brief board members on the details of the new youth leadership program.
“Dean and I have been talking about a program like this for high school students modeled on the chamber’s Leadership Lancaster program,” Moore said. “Between what they do and what we can do as a school district, I think it’ll be a real positive.”
Faile said like the program on which it is modeled, the youth program is intended to raise students’ awareness of what Lancaster County has to offer and local opportunities for leadership it offers.
The extended program educates participants on the county’s history, government, educational entities, health care, law enforcement, businesses and business climate, among others, through field trips and activities with local leaders.
Faile said the goals of the program were borne out by comments he and others heard during a visit to Spartanburg area schools to explore their success with a similar program.
“When we asked what do you get out of this program, we heard them say it raised awareness of their community ... gave them pride in their community,” Faile said. “The key that we heard, and this is one of the things we believe, is that they didn’t see that ‘brain drain’ from the community ... where students go off to college and never come back.”
Faile said the local program will start with about 30 participants chosen from the county’s four high school junior classes. The program focuses on juniors since they’ll have one more year in high school in which they can use their experience to encourage other students to participate.
He said there would be some criteria to entry in the program for most students. Students must be in the top 25 percent of their class, for example, and write an essay about why they want to join.
But Moore, like Faile, said there would also be some exceptions for “natural leaders.”
“We also want schools to be able to recommend students who may not meet that criteria, but who would still be very good for the program,” Moore said. “What we hope will happen is that these students who learn about the county will come back her after graduating (college) and become leaders in the community.”
LCSD Director of Secondary Education Dr. Linda Blackwell updated school board members on a $1.1 million federal Head Start grant.
The grant, Blackwell said, will allow the school district to expand its current 4K Head Start program, with 140 children, by 151 students in 3K and 4K.
“So we’re looking at 291 students,” Blackwell said. “That’s pretty strong four our district.”
Blackwell said the grant will include transportation for students in the program as well as training and other costs. She said she hopes to have the program up and rolling by October or November.
LCSD Facilities Director David Small said during the July 15 meeting that landscaping at Indian Land’s new Harrisburg Elementary was largely done and that work on the inside of the building was ready for inspection Friday, July 18.
He said he saw no reason why the school wouldn’t be ready for teachers and staff to begin moving in by the beginning of August.
“I’m looking forward to the end result, and I can see it now,” Small said. “I can see the finish line now.”
Small said in addition to work on Harrisburg Elementary, the district had completed work at Andrew Jackson Middle School that included new heating and air systems, lighting, ceilings and other major facility upgrades.
u School board members honored Andrew Jackson Middle School Assistant Principal Virginia Sorrow for her appointment as 2014 S.C. Middle School Association Secretary-Elect.
u School board members honored rising Indian Land High School Junior Katherine Kilroy for being chosen to play on the 2014 Class AA All-State Girls Soccer Team.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151.