Magnet Schools

SDPC follows our board’s vision for a Breakthrough in School Choice through magnet options at Central Academy of the Arts, and McKissick Academy of Science & Technology. Both magnet schools continue to serve their zoned population in addition to successfully attracting students from around the county with their unique, theme-based curriculum.

The Breakthrough initiative is a continuation of SDPC’s long-standing commitment to school choice, allowing students from any of our attendance areas to request attendance at any school in the district as long as transportation is provided by the family and the student remains in good standing on grades and attendance. The flexibility for parents to choose the educational environment that is best for their children has been for decades part of what makes Pickens County an excellent place to raise a family.

To learn more about our Magnet Schools visit their websites below or click each logo to see each of their brochures!

Central Academy of the Arts

Central Academy of the Arts

Central Elementary became the Central Academy of the Arts (CAA) in the fall of 2018. At that time, we transitioned from a traditional elementary school into an arts magnet school and began implementing The Kennedy Center's art integration focus. Arts integration is defined by The Kennedy Center as “an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject and meets evolving objectives in both.” We believe that our students’ social, emotional, and educational needs are better met through the integration of the arts in their learning of new information and demonstration of mastery of new skills. We look forward to your child and family joining us on this journey of arts discovery!

Since establishing itself as an Arts magnet, CAA has been named a South Carolina Distinguished Arts Program Grant recipient. The Distinguished Arts Program (DAP) grant is a state program designed to assist schools in creating and implementing art initiatives that support quality arts education programs for students. Mrs. Goode, principal of CAA was also named the Palmetto State Arts Education - Arts Administrator of the Year in 2019. This recognition is awarded to school leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to arts programs, making a difference in the lives of South Carolina's school students, and seek to advance learning in and through the arts for all students.

McKissick Academy of Science & Technology

McKissick Academy of Science & Technology

McKissick Academy of Science & Technology (MAST) serves Pre-K through to 5th grade through a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) theme that combines traditional learning with a Project-Based Learning focus that leads students to Ask, Explore, Model, Evaluate, and Explain at all grade levels. In addition to the project-based learning in all classrooms, students have access to the “Shark Tank,” and maker-space in which students will have the opportunity to showcase their innovations. MAST has a unique partnership with the Pickens County Career & Technology Center, Clemson University College of Engineering, and Clemson University College of Education, as well as clubs for robotics, coding, gaming, and more.

In January 2022, MAST was named a 2022 Magnet School of Excellence by Magnet Schools of America, the national association for magnet and theme-based schools. The Magnet Schools of America Merit Award of Excellence awards are given to magnet schools that demonstrate a commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation and diversity efforts, and strong parent and community involvement. MAST is one of only three elementary schools in South Carolina to receive this award.

If you have specific questions about either school, please don't hesitate to send emails to for inquiries about Central Academy, or to for questions about McKissick Academy. We look forward to hearing from you!

The purpose of a magnet school theme-based program is improved teaching and learning, addressing diversity, and addressing school capacity through school choice options.

The plans for both schools are based on the National Magnet School Standards of Excellence.