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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Four short years ago, a group of 20 Richland Two students began high school and college at the same time. They enrolled in the Richland Two AVID Early College housed at Ridge View High School. Now these students will soon have a high school diploma and college degree. They are the first group of students in the near 100-year history of Richland Two to achieve this accomplishment.

Jeffrey McMicken, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Site Coordinator says he spent time calming student concerns about course workloads and their ability to complete the requirements of high school and college all at once. McMicken said, “There was some tension and nervousness about whether they would be able to do all the work. I had to reassure them that the Early College is setting them up for success not failure and that they just needed to commit themselves to it.”

With intentionality, Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Baron R. Davis helped develop this lucrative partnership with the University of South Carolina-Sumter to offer students a wider variety of college and career development options. “It is wonderful to see the students achieve their goals. Their commitment has resulted in a 100 percent graduation rate for the first cohort of students in the Richland Two AVID Early College and I’m extremely happy,” said Davis.

In May 2021, the graduates will each receive an Associate’s degrees in the Arts from the UofSC-Sumter. This partnership covered two years of tuition for each student, valued at $25,376 per student, $507,520 collectively.

A recognition and cording ceremony was held Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at Ridge View. Dr. Ray McManus, a professor of English and UofSC-Sumter Director of Faculty, Curricula & Courses for Dual Enrollment Programs in Lexington and Richland County issued a challenge to the graduates to remember everything they had to overcome, including a global pandemic, to achieve this accomplishment.

The Richland Two AVID Early College is available to rising 8th grade students across Richland Two. There is an application and acceptance process. More information can be found on the district’s website: from the cording ceremony is on YouTube:

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