Aiken County gets national award

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 24, 2008

AIKEN CTY, S.C. --- Aiken County is bringing home an award for the first time. It's selected as one of the Best 100 Communities for young people in the nation by the American Promise Alliance.

Officials admit Aiken County has a high rate of domestic violence and dropouts. But, it's what the community does for the young people and what opportunities they have, which helped them bring home this national award.

With a simple flip of a green paper, Aiken County finds its place in the national picture. For 17-year-old baseball outfielder Christ Mahannah, it's memories like this he always remembers.

"Hit a game winning hit to bring us to the Championship, in the bottom of the 7th inning, 2 outs, 2 strikes," says Chris.

Those memories and more that make him proud to call Aiken home. And proud to write - on a single nights' notice - an essay saying why his community is the best.

"It's a neighborhood-kind of environment," he says.

It's an environment filled with lots of recreational activities.

"It's a good part of growing up. You feel like you belong. And you feel like people care," says Chris.

Some of those caring people are adults, quality teachers. Those are two of the 5 promises the American Promise Alliance is all about.

"The great schools around here have a great learning environment. A lot of very dedicated people. They helped prepare me," says Chris.

Fellow student Haley Rapp agrees.

"All the teachers get really active with the students and it's not just in a class, they take you outside and work with you separately if you need it," says Haley.

One of those leaders is Pat Keating. He's one of 350 school leaders trained with Aiken County Community Partnership's week long summer institute.

"It is a huge part of one of the tools we use to help young people become successful adults," says Pat.

Learning and teaching everything from academics to medical situations. It's a total team effort.

"One person can start something, but can't do the whole thing. It takes a lot of people to recognize something that big," says Haley.

Big honors, but what next?

"We're gonna clearly work with keeping kids in school and ways to make that a priority for children," says Peggy Ford ACCP Exec. Director.

Peggy says they are looking forward to all the opportunities this national award gives them.

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