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Aiken Technical College Extends Partnership with Aiken Co. Public Schools
Nikasha N Dicks
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Aiken Technical College Extends Partnership with Aiken Co. Public Schools

Aiken County Public Schools, Midland Valley High School and Aiken Technical College (ATC) announced Sept. 25 their plans to build upon the foundation of an already successful partnership by introducing even more Midland Valley students to college coursework while still in high school.

“As a school district, we are continuing to emphasize workforce development and encouraging a broadened view of post-secondary success,” Dr. Alford, Aiken’s superintendent, explained. “This extension of our collaboration will bring the expertise of an ATC advisor to Midland Valley in an effort to help students and parents explore multiple pathways to post-secondary success, gaining both knowledge of career and technical pathways and an early start to attaining a degree or work-based credential.”  

The announcement comes after the program’s second cohort, 28 rising tenth-grade students, began taking classes at ATC over the summer months. The program at Midland valley High now has 44 Early College students. With support structures in place like the Academic Success Center at ATC, consistent communications between ATC professors and Midland Valley’s counselors, and built in study time for Early College students on Fridays, students in both cohorts are maintaining high academic standards and are on track to successfully earn both a district diploma and an Associate of Arts degree during high school. The first cohort of 16 students (now high school juniors) have already earned 22 college credits to date.

The additional presence of an ATC advisor at Midland Valley High beginning in early October marks a new developmental phase of the program as the high school looks to offer college classes to even more of its students in the future. The ATC employees will serve as a resource to students and parents in exploring career pathways.

“Aiken Technical College and the school district both value the role education has in opening the door to opportunities and success,” said Dr. Forest E. Mahan, President of Aiken Technical College. “By extending our presence at Midland Valley High School, we hope to help more students realize their future is indeed within reach and help them connect with the pathway that best fits their goals and dreams. We are excited about being a part of this growing partnership and look forward to continuing to increase access to educational opportunities.”

Though the academic stretch of Early College, with two college-level courses beginning the summer before sophomore year of high school isn’t for every student, increasing opportunities for all students and encouraging them to enroll in at least one class with Midland Valley’s post-secondary partner, is an extension of the collaboration worth celebrating.

“There are many wonderful job opportunities in our community,” stated Midland Valley High School Lead Counselor Sharon Worley. “Students can have a great well-paying job and continue to live here in Aiken County, and this is the kind of training they will need. This program allows students the opportunity to avoid excessive student debt on their pathway to a viable career.”

Funding for Midland Valley’s thematic program has been a collaborative effort between ATC’s Foundation, the school district and fundraising support led by Public Education Partners and community partners, particularly those in the Horse Creek Valley Area.  

“There is an overarching and renewed emphasis in supporting the Horse Creek Valley,” Dr. Alford continued. “This partnership just makes sense. Not just for Midland Valley High School, but for the community as well.”

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