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School District Five students explore careers through summer grant program

Chapin, SC - Students from the Academy For Success were given a unique opportunity to explore different career paths, thanks to a grant providing hands-on experiences this summer.

The Building Bridges to Success six-week program was aimed at providing enrichment for eleven middle school students at the Academy for Success. Assistant Principal Trina Dickerson said the program was a great reinforcement to the career skills and opportunities students are exposed to during the school year.

“We wrote a grant with a group of professionals from our district in order to have an enrichment program for our students during the summer,” said Dickerson. “We felt we would get the maximum impact from our middle school students so we planned a comprehensive program so they would get academic enrichment and career exploration.”

The students had the opportunity to participate in eight field trips including: Riverbanks Zoo and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, Tri-County Technical College and the Zentrum Museum, Midlands Technical College Airport Campus and Fort Jackson, Columbia Fire Department and Challenger Learning Center, Myrtle Beach State Park, and Regal Cinema Columbiana Grande Theaters.

The students received academic enrichment at the River’s Edge Retreat Monday through Wednesday, which consisted of leadership and character development, team building exercises, outdoor activities and more. Thursdays were spent exploring different careers featured through the field trips.

During the Columbia Fire Department and Challenger Learning Center tour, students were introduced to careers related to firefighting as well as Space and flight. The students toured a fire house, learned about the different types of fire trucks and equipment and then spent the afternoon building and testing their own rocket as well as flying different planes through a flight simulator program.

Rising seventh grader PJ Heyward raised his hand when asked if anyone in the group had interest in being a firefighter one day. “When we went to the Fire Department we learned all about what was in the fire trucks and the other things they did besides fight fires,” said Heyward. “What I got out of that was that they don’t care about your past. If you did something wrong in your past, you can make up for it in the future.”

Dickerson said the field trips have been eye opening for her students because they get to hear the different professional’s personal stories and how they got to where they are today. “We’ve been very fortunate that our presenters have shared their personal stories so the students can see themselves in that role and they know the person didn’t just get there overnight, it took preparation,” said Dickerson.

She added that in the end they want the students to enjoy these experiences, but know they are being prepared to be successful. “Whatever the career strand they choose, they are getting the skills and everything else they need in School District Five so they can be successful in any career choice. Any type of (career) possibility that they can dream of, School District Five prepares them for and that’s what this program allows them to see and experience,” said Dickerson.

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