Improvements seen as expansion continues at Aiken High

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Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018
News 12 @ 6 O’clock / NBC 26 at 7

AIKEN COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- Students at Aiken High head to class as crews continue working on the school’s new upgrades.

"Whew! I remember coming to Aiken High during my freshman year. You know, big campus and stuff."

Jabarrik Corley has seen the construction since he first got there.

"I'd say a challenging thing starting off was basically just knowing where a lot of things were at," he said.

"You come to the same building every day, it's like 'oh man school again same old Aiken High, but now, we have new facilities."

He's also noticed a change in how he and his fellow students approach things since they've entered the home stretch.

"When you come into an environment and it's not the same thing it's new it makes kids want to learn more," Corley explained.

Assistant Principal Alisa Hamrick says big things are coming when this wraps up in about 18 months.

"This phase will house our culinary program, our early child education program, NJROTC."

Culinary classrooms will have an industrial kitchen and outdoor seating. Child Care will change too.

"Instead of just being in a regular classroom, there will be a virtual daycare simulation center," she said.

But all of this comes with some challenges.

Right now, many students have to walk outside to get from one end of the building to the other.

"We lovingly call that the island because it does feel like they're apart from us."

She says safety is a primary concern.

"We want them to feel safe on campus, and we want the parents to know that their students are safe. So once they walk outside, we don't have them under lock and key," Principal Hamrick said.

Right now, they have about 8 minutes between classes plenty of time to breathe it all in.

"Sometimes we get the smell of tar because they're putting tar on the roof or a section of the building," Corley said.

Students like Corley say they don't mind though as long as they keep getting those upgrades.

Walking down this hallway in Aiken High's new wing, it's not uncommon to hear noises like this coming from just beyond the wall, where they are doing construction. But both Hamrick and Corley say it only serves to add to the excitement about what's to come.



Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
News 12 @ 6 O’clock / NBC 26 at 7

AIKEN COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- Aiken County Schools got pumped up for a new year at their One Team rally today.

"Back to school is one of the most exciting times of the school year."

The district is in the home stretch of its sales tax III projects including adding another new wing at Aiken High.

"In the new school, students feel like people care about them," said Alisa Hamrick, Aiken High Assistant Principal.

"The facilities are awesome. We got those nice big, wide hallways," said Dr. Garen Cofer, Aiken High Principal.

Both principal Dr. Garen Cofer and his vice principal Alisa Hamrick say construction will wrap up by March.

"To be able to have students under one roof is paramount," Dr. Cofer said.

Right now, they're just focused on week one and so is the district's new Executive Director of Elementary Schools, Dr. Mendi Tucker.

"We'd ask you to have some patience because in those first couple days lines can get very long," said Dr. Tucker.

This is the first time many students will be going to new schools because of rezoning that happened in January.

"There are going to be some glitches. The new routes are different than before because of zoning," she said.

Everything's changing from children's surroundings to bus routes.

Dr. Tucker goes on to suggest, "Especially the first week of school, I'd leave 20-30 minutes early."

Tucker says to make sure you know traffic patterns ahead of time. Individual schools' websites will also have instructions to navigate the car line.

"If you do get out to walk your child to their classroom make sure you do that from an actual parking space, not the line," she said.

Another thing, if your child is grandfathered into a school, parents are responsible for getting them there.

"Bus transportation will not be provided," Dr. Tucker said.

The district wants you to know you can download Aiken County Public SD. You can download it for your iPhone or Android device. Download it and get up to the minute transportation updates, and any other alerts that can make your back to school experience that much more carefree.