Local Students To Earn College Credits At Limestone's New Scholars Academy

Charles Wyatt
Local Students To Earn College Credits At Limestone's New Scholars Academy

Incoming first-year students from across the country and around the globe will not be the only new faces on Limestone College’s campus this coming fall.

In partnership with the Cherokee County School District, Limestone’s new Scholars Academy will give a limited number of academically motivated high school students the opportunity to complement their study and earn college credits while attending classes on Limestone’s campus.

The new program – which will get underway after Limestone moves to university status this summer – will enable local students to take college courses and advanced high school classes over four years while still participating in extracurricular activities at their own schools.

That means students from Gaffney High and Blacksburg can take classes during the day at Limestone, still enjoy high school milestone events like the prom, and play sports for the Indians and Wildcats, respectively.

The Scholars Academy allows top academic students from the local district to be challenged by a combination of Honors, Advanced Placement, and Dual Enrollment courses. Scholars will gradually move from self-contained classes in their first year to all dual enrollment by their senior year. Academic advisors from the district and the University will work together to help the students choose paths that lead to degree options at Limestone or transfer options to other schools.

Participants will have the prospect of earning an associate degree at Limestone while still in high school. The students will graduate with a high school diploma and a maximum of 85 college credits once the program is fully implemented. After graduating from the Scholars Academy, students can continue at Limestone University and complete their college degrees in as little as two years. They also have the option to transfer their eligible credits to another institution.

“The Scholars Academy offers a unique educational experience for those high school students who are dedicated to putting in the additional time a program like this requires,” said Limestone Provost Dr. Monica Baloga. “The benefits of that hard work are just tremendous, such as having a two-year college degree even before they graduate from high school. The students will get a jumpstart on their college careers, and if they remain at Limestone as undergraduates, they will have preferred status when selecting their classes and residential housing and applying for available scholarships.

“One of the major advantages of this program is that students get to do college-level coursework while still having the support from family and friends nearby,” she added. “Going off to college for the first time can be overwhelming for some students. But through the Scholars Academy, the students will get a taste of college life while still sleeping in their own beds at night. That will put them more at ease when it is time to pack up and go off to college.”

Baloga said that at the start of the program, all Scholars Academy classes will take place in Limestone’s historic Winnie Davis Hall. Like Limestone’s traditional students, the participants will enjoy their lunch inside the Stephenson Dining Hall on campus. The high school courses will be taught by instructors from the local school district, and the college classes will be taught by members of Limestone’s faculty.

The application deadline for the inaugural Scholars Academy class came this past February, and the students chosen will take two years of advanced placement courses as freshmen and sophomores. Starting with the second semester of their first year, they will take college courses as Limestone students and can begin to explore any of the university's majors.

From that application pool, in March the Cherokee County School District selected 29 rising 9th and 10th graders to take part in the program. Several Limestone faculty members also participated in the student and parent interview process.

Students who accept invitations to participate in the Scholars Academy must maintain A’s and B’s in all courses and continue in the college program until graduation. While there are no added costs to take part in the program at Limestone, the students who leave the Scholars Academy at any point would be required to reimburse the school district for all expenses incurred for college course work and other related fees.

“We have enjoyed working with the Cherokee County School District in getting this program off the ground, and we’re looking forward to a long-term partnership that will create a wonderful new path to college success for high school students,” said Limestone President Dr. Darrell Parker. “While we’re excited about having the local high school students on our campus, the primary purpose of the Scholars Academy is to serve the most academically capable students at an accelerated rate and level commensurate with their abilities.

“We are providing these scholars the opportunity to immerse themselves in the college atmosphere,” he added. “In taking part in the Scholars Academy, they will acquire time management skills, further develop their critical thinking, and to get a true grasp for what college life feels like. They will also receive a top-notch quality education in a supportive learning environment.”

The school district’s recent application process required a 500-word essay, two academic recommendations, and a personal interview to be considered for the Scholars Academy.

Justin Lovelace will serve as the Scholars Academy Principal.

For more information on the Scholars Academy, contact Amanda Painter, Coordinator of High Schools for the Cherokee County School District, at amanda.painter@cherokee1.org or call (864) 206-2201, or visit www.limestone.edu/scholarsacademy.