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  • Story by Caroline Elswick // Photos by Eden Alon

Why high school students are in your college classes

If you ever had a high school student in your classes at CCU, then you’ve met a student of the Scholars Academy.

Founded in 2003, the Scholars Academy is a public school program which recruits high performance students from the Horry County School District. The academy offers students an advanced high school curriculum as well as the introduction to CCU’s classes. Most of these students graduate from the academy with up to two years of college credits under their belt, averaging 67 credits.

The school accepts approximately 50 rising 9th graders every year. Students begin by taking Honors and AP classes, and start taking CCU classes the second semester of their freshman year.

Program Administrator Norman McQueen described the school as “a partnership between Horry County Schools and Coastal Carolina University to provide advanced learners with a quality education in a supportive learning environment. Its mission is to educate these students at the rate and with the level of academic rigor that matches their abilities so that they graduate as learners who are prepared to succeed in higher education and in the world beyond.”

Students enjoy a competitive and challenging environment, as well as one in which they feel at home among their peers.

The teachers work hard to encourage students to succeed at their full potential, including AP Statistics teacher Lance Shuford.

“Our teachers create a challenging environment in a variety of ways, but they all go back to a few main ideas. We provide depth and application as much as possible.” said Shuford. “We collaborate in cross curriculum meetings and we try to provide instruction in a variety of forms in order to open up minds and dialogs in the classroom.”

The academy has produced many successful graduates, including Morgan Compton, a senior at University of South Carolina Honors College, which was ranked as the Number 1 Honors College in the U.S. in 2012.

“Scholars Academy was such a unique opportunity that allowed me to gain college experience while still in the supportive environment of a high school,” said Compton. “Taking classes through CCU helped prepare me to attend college and succeed, as well as figure out a clearer direction for my career path since I had more opportunities to explore a variety of classes.”

While most students do go to school in-state, past students have gone to prestigious schools including Yale, Princeton, UPenn, MIT, Cornell, and Stanford, according to McQueen.

Grace Leonard is a sophomore at Scholars Academy.

“What I enjoy most about Scholars is the people that I have met, they are extremely smart in varying ways and push me academically.” Leonard said. “Scholars provides an environment where I can learn as much from my peers as I can from my teachers.”

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