News 12 at 11/ March 12, 2012
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Is the third time the charm? Two schools in Aiken County already have freshman academies and now there's another one on the list.
High school can be full of hurdles like landing the right grades and scoring big with your peers.
Cameron Smith is an eighth grader at North Augusta Middle School. He describes high school as "scary, because it's a bunch of older people."
Breana Thomas is an eighth grader, too. She goes to Paul Knox Middle School and told News 12, " I think of bullies."
Eighth graders like Smith will soon start high school, but they know very little about what it's really like.
"Saved by the Bell; I was like is that how high school really is?" he said.
Simone Smith is Cameron's mother. She said, "Before you just throw him to the woods, it actually gives them time with the whole process of high school."
Cameron's mom is talking about a new freshman academy at North Augusta High School.
"It sounds like it's going to be wonderful," she said.
You can sign her up and hundreds of others agreed.
"Instead of just turning them loose with all of the other students," said Mary-Ann Couvillon. Her son goes to Paul Knox Middle School.
Freshman Academy Project Teacher Jane Monroe described Freshman Academy as "a school within a school."
What does that really mean?
Monroe said, "That means their lockers are going to be on that hall, their classrooms are going to be on that hall and they'll have a separate lunch."
Schools in the northeast have been doing it for years.
Monroe replied, "But I think the southeast is slowly coming on board with the idea of a freshman academy."
It's something sophomore Paul Liner wishes he would have had. "I didn't really like my freshman year. I was very worried about what the seniors and upperclassmen thought of me and now with this new freshman academy, we have the ability to segregate the freshmen from the rest of the people."
Leaders say it's more than that. It's about ensuring freshman are on the right path to a successful academic career. So an academy for Cameron would mean starting high school on a high note.
"My passion is music and I'm looking forward to high school," said Cameron Smith.
The program at North Augusta High School will officially take off next school year, but Monday night was an opportunity for incoming freshmen to learn more about it.
The school district is working on a shoestring budget, but it'll cost them about $165,000. That is about the cost of two teachers and a guidance counselor.
This academy was just recently put in place at two other high schools in Aiken County.