Success Builders: Accelerate

Success Builders: The Accelerate Program
Posted on 11/06/2017
Accelerate Students

Throughout the year, we turn the spotlight on “Success Builders” in our school district. Each article in the “Success Builders” series will focus on programs and people who are creating new ways to help our students meet the Profile of the 21st Century Graduate.

Lack of focus and direction is a common problem for high school students. But not for Zach Christie. "Since a young age I was very good at math and science, and my dad was one of the first people to kind of suggest engineering to me," he said. A tenth grader at Liberty High School, Christie has his sights set on Clemson University's engineering program, specifically nuclear engineering. This year, he has found a program that he believes will push him closer to his goal: Accelerate.

Provided by the SC Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics and SC college partners, Accelerate allows students to live at home and continue at their local schools while receiving the kind of rigorous classes you would expect from the Governor's school. 

"The Accelerate program provides students with an opportunity to build a solid foundation in preparation for a career in engineering or a related STEM field as they earn credits for their first year in general engineering," said Dr. Zaria O'Bryant, Accelerate Program Administrator for the Upstate.

Zach Christie in classLiberty High School hosts the Accelerate classes for the School District of Pickens County, with students enrolled from all four of the district's high schools. Students interact with their teachers and with students in other districts through video teleconferencing. During class, students on both sides of the screen are mentally locked-in, a quality Christie appreciates. "In this class I'm actually challenged, so it's a nice change of pace," he said.

The benefits of the program are enormous. In addition to the STEM skills and content students will learn, over a 3 year period, successful students will earn a year of college credit at no cost to their parents. However, not just any student can be accepted. "In order to be eligible to apply to the Accelerate Program, students must attend school in a partner district and project completion of Algebra Two by the end of the 9th grade," O'Bryant said. "The application process is designed to evaluate a student's record of exemplary achievement in math, science and English as a strong interest in pursuing a STEM related career. Components include an essay, teacher evaluation forms, a team activity and a math readiness assessment."

The application process helps to ensure an atmosphere in which students not only learn from their teachers, but grow through their interactions with each other. "It's kind of interesting because there are some of the other kids in this program who are not all wanting to do the same type of engineering," Christie said. "There are multiple students that want to be in biomedical or aerospace, so it's good to talk to them about their interests too." With Accelerate, the path to his college and career goals just got clearer. "I think it will be a tremendous help," he said.

Parents and students interesting in learning more about enrolling in Accelerate can find more information by clicking here!

Accelerate students in class