District names 50 rising Freshman selected to Aiken Scholars Academy inaugural class


50 rising freshman will be attending high school on the Aiken campus of the University of South Carolina.

The Aiken Scholars Academy’s inaugural cohort of students is a diverse group hailing from all corners of Aiken County. Nine of 11 Aiken County Public School District middle schools are represented in the first freshman class. There are three ASA students from an area private school, one who has been homeschooled and another student who has attended an online charter school. The following students have been selected to attend the Academy:

Madison Ackroyd, Kadence Adams, Jumanah Al-Soudi, Aiden Arnold, Gabriel Beckett, Bailey Bennett, Benjamin Blackburn, Karmen Bradley, Grace Burns, Abby Christensen, Jennifer Cork, Hailey Evans, Morgan Fields, Meagan Fortune, Ayden Franks,America Funentes, Kayla Goldschmidt, Zachary Goolsby, Haley Gunnels, Aiden Hadley, Ashlynn Hare, Ian Hurley, Lauren Jackson,Ashton Johnson, Klayre King, Lauren Lee, Jakob Lyle, Ann Messick, Samantha Miller, Kinsley Mullins, Rebecca Noyce, Ashley Oerman, Alyssa Perkins, Makayla Pilot, Emma Poteat, Kendall Pressley, David Roy, Taloria Scott, Zachary Simmons, Andrew Singer, Hailey Snaidman, Mathew Teuber, Brooklyn Turner, McKayla Walcott, Jadie Ward, Ellis Waters, Alexandria Wilson, Michael Wilson, Shayden Wood, and Mallory Zinger.

Principal Martha Messick will be heading the Aiken Scholars Program that’s kicking off this fall.

Messick says the 50 students named to the inaugural class have outstanding academic achievements and represent all parts of the County.

Since the high school is at USCA, students can dual-enroll and earn up to 60 college credit hours towards their degree.

“One of the beautiful things about the Scholars Academy is many program around the state have students select an area that they are going to focus in, so they are STEM focused or business focused.” Messick told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “Our students have the opportunity to take whatever courses or whatever content area [or] majors that interest them.” 

School leaders are planning a meeting for May to collaboration with students in the selection of the school colors, mascot and motto.

An interest meeting is planned for later in the summer for rising 8th graders to apply for the Academy.

The Aiken County Public School District is pleased to announce that the Aiken Scholars Academy selection committee has offered and placed its first freshman cohort of 50 students who will open a brand new academic chapter this fall at Aiken County’s most exclusive high school.

The Aiken Scholars Academy (ASA) is a groundbreaking collaboration between Aiken County Public Schools and the University of South Carolina at Aiken to create an academic school of excellence unlike any other in the Southeast. The Academy, which will be located on campus at USC Aiken when it opens in the fall, will offer advanced students an engaging educational experience that introduces and then immerses them into the collegiate environment beginning in their first year of high school as freshmen.

“These young people have accepted the challenge to take on an accelerated and rigorous curriculum and I am honored to lead the school,” commented Aiken Scholars Academy Principal Martha Messick. “I look forward to all of the great things that are to come and most importantly, getting to know the students and their families more in the weeks and months ahead.”

All students entering the Academy are currently enrolled in English I (48) or English II (2), and are taking advanced mathematics coursework in either Geometry (41) or Algebra I (9). Thirty-six students of the 50 in the initial cohort are already learning four different world languages: French (6), German (6), Latin (1), and Spanish (23). Twenty-six of these students will have a full computer science credit, and six will have a half credit by the end of the current school year. Several students will also bring in elective credits as well.

Standardized assessment data shows students selected for the Aiken Scholars Academy (who participated in the assessments) are among the top academic percentiles nationally. This includes the following academic performance information:

  • Average score on the PSAT 8/9 was a 1052 (93rd percentile), with an average of 546 (92nd percentile) on Evidenced-Based Reading Writing and 507 (89th percentile) on Math.
  • The average score on the PSAT/NMSQT was 1039, with an average of 548 (71st percentile) on the Evidenced-BasedReading and Writing and a 492 (64th percentile) on Math. It is important to note that the PSAT/NMSQT is an assessment for students in the 10th and 11th grade to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program and correlates with anticipated performance on the SAT. Percentile ranks are comparisons to 10th grade students, not same aged peers.
  • Twenty-eight students were identified as National Junior Scholars. These students scored 550 or higher on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, 530 or higher on the Mathematics section of the new PSAT/NMSQT or they participated in Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) during their seventh-grade year, or they meet the eligibility requirements as outlined by that program, and have been identified and recognized by Duke TIP at the State or Grand recognition ceremony.
  • SC PASS Social Studies Performance 2017 – 84% Exemplary, 16% Met
  • SC PASS Science Performance 2017 – 98% Exceeds Expectations, 2% Meets Expectations
  • The average Lexile level according to Winter Reading Inventory is 1335 (92nd percentile)
  • The average Quantile level according to Math Inventory is 1172 (87th percentile)
  • Thirty-nine students are designated as Gifted & Talented (GT) Academic, one student is designated as GT Artistic, while two students are designated as both GT Academic and Artistic (six out-of-district do not have records).

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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