Education

Published on June 20th, 2018 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Escolares Academy academic magnet celebrates 10 years in School District Five

IRMO – The Escolares Academy celebrated its 10-year anniversary with several events this school year.

The Lexington-Richland School District Five magnet program for academically gifted elementary school students in the district started during the 2007-2008 school year and is housed at Harbison West Elementary School. Today, there are hundreds of alumni of the program district-wide. I AM Escolares, an extension of the elementary school program, will launch at Irmo Middle School Academic Magnet in August.

“The program has grown extensively…it started with one class of second graders and has grown to two classes in grades two through five,” said Tami Richardson, School District Five’s coordinator for gifted and talented programs. “I think one of the draws is the fact that students from all over our district attend this program, and the students challenge one another …it gives gifted students an opportunity to be with like-minded peers.”

The anniversary celebrations included a reunion event for current and former students at Irmo Park in May, as well as the program’s inaugural completion ceremony on June 7 for fifth grade students completing the program this school year. The program also was highlighted during the district’s June 11 School Board meeting.

Parents of former Escolares Academy students like Mark Gentry and Autumne Smith said the program helped grow their students’ academic talents.

“It’s just a wonderful place to be,” Gentry said. “…When you are told that you are an achiever and that you are capable, and you have school allowing that to blossom, it’s just a great thing and yields great results for these students.”

Smith had two students in the program, a rising 9th grader and a student who will attend I AM Escolares at Irmo Middle in the fall. “My kids were all just like the other Escolares students. They think differently. They look at the world differently …and the program has nurtured that as a strength.”

Courtney Davis and her parents traveled from North Carolina to attend the reunion event on May 20.

“I loved it…all the friends you make there (and) all the things you got to do,” Davis said. “Because of the program, I do feel more prepared for hard work in school. I know I can do it.”

Sonja Davis added, “It made her more confident in herself and in her academics. It was a great experience.”

During the June 7 completion program, Harbison West Principal Ed Davis and Sheila Shelby, one of the first teachers of the program, shared words of wisdom with the students.

“This class of program completers has achieved great things,” Davis said. “Several Duke Tip Scholars, several state and regional science fair awards… and the accolades go on and on. We are so proud of you all, and know that you will go on to do great things.”

In a final lesson to the students Shelby shared several quotes and said, “We know that you are capable academically, and I hope we have also taught you the importance of being good people… Now, go and be great.”

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