Published on May 8th, 2018 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Construction program offers students with disabilities in School District Five gateway to their future

Photo caption: Irmo High students Azante’ Dawson (back) and Kenny Steele (front) work on the roof of their small building project. The students are a part of a new construction program held on the airport campus of Midlands Technical College. 

WEST COLUMBIA – Dr. Angie Slatton and the special services department with School District Five have always had an eye on the future for its students.

The district has partnered with multiple organizations to create what is called the BOOM program. BOOM, (Building Occupational Opportunities in the Midlands), features students with disabilities from School District Five, Richland One and Richland Two in a semester-long course where they learn construction at Midlands Technical College’s airport campus.

“We want all of our students to have the opportunity of gaining career experiences and training experiences post-high school, and for those not earning a traditional high school diploma, it’s challenging,” Slatton said. “This partnership allows our students to attend a course at Midlands Technical College that ends in competitive employment.”

Slatton says the four students in BOOM from School District Five will likely all receive job offers at the conclusion of the program on May 18.

Through partnerships with Midlands Education & Business Alliance, SC Vocational Rehabilitation, Midlands Workforce and the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina, students from all three districts have spent months on building projects including birdhouses and small buildings.

“I think I’ve always had a passion for building construction, but to be honest this is more of a dream than anything,” said Chapin High senior Sam Bennett.

Irmo High senior Azante’ Dawson added, “I always wondered what or who I wanted to be – this has been an amazing experience.”

What originally started as a simple brainstorm idea and a few meetings turned into something Midlands Tech program director Vince Earls calls “one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever been a part of.”

“To see what these students have been able to accomplish and do things that maybe some people didn’t think they could do has been incredible,” Earls said. “It is so exciting to see the passion come out in these students.”

This opportunity is one Dawson says he thought would never happen.

“I never thought I would have the chance to try construction, but I am so thankful it has happened,” Dawson said. “I’m so thankful for my teachers who have helped pull a passion out of me.”

The students will be honored for the completion of the BOOM program at a reception on May 18 at Midlands Tech airport campus’s Advanced Manufacturing and Skilled Crafts Center.



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