Horry County students on opposite sides of the argument respond to recent petition

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Friday, News13 told you a Socastee High School student created a petition asking that the school board separate Horry County Scholars Academy and the Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology from other base schools in the district to make class rank and scholarship opportunities more fair.

Since that story, several students from AAST and Scholars Academy have asked to tell their side of the story.

Alex Tew is one of those students. He’s been a student at Scholars Academy for the last four years, and he’s currently the valedictorian at Saint James High School.

He says gaining that title hasn’t been easy.

“There’s a lot of sleepless nights where you just have to study and study and study,” said Tew.  

Tew says he, like many others, chose to go to Scholars Academy for the challenge – one he felt he didn’t get at his base school in middle school.

“Most of them, if not all of them who are in the top twenty at Saint James had the opportunity to come here. The only real requirement is that you fill out the application and you were a eighth grader in Horry County at the time,” said Tew.  

Friday, News13 introduced you to Socastee High School Student Merritt Welch who created the petition asking to make Scholars Academy and AAST independent schools.

“I want them to have their own class rankings and own graduation so they can’t be our valedictorian when they haven’t set foot in this school in all four years when there’s a student who’s a point less than them who would be valedictorian who’s been here day in and day out for all four years,” said Welch.

Tew says part of that argument simply isn’t true.

“Most of them, if not all of them, are involved in the base school in some way or another. There are a lot of people in the marching band, people in football, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, cross country,” said Tew.  

Tew says he plays in the marching band at Saint James High School, and if the schools were separated, he, and all of the other Scholars Academy and AAST students, wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities.

Welch also argued that the programs gave opportunities that some base schools didn’t have, like access to more higher level classes that could make a student in Scholars Academy or AAST eligible for a higher GPA.

Scholars Academy Junior Alexandra Simons says that may be true for some schools, but other schools, like Carolina Forest High School, offer more higher level classes than Scholars Academy.

Both Simons and Tew say separating the schools would deter students from choosing the more challenging program because it could mean they would sacrifice scholarships and recognition.

 “My class only has about 36-37 students. So, 37 out of 37 doesn’t sound very good, and you have to have a lot of context to understand this is a very hard working, like-minded school. So, that sounds bad just giving it to colleges,” said Simons.  

School Board Chair Joe DeFeo says in the past, they haven’t separated the schools because previous administration worried doing so would lower test scores for the county.

He said he would be wiling to bring this issue back up to other school board members. Several students from Scholars Academy told News13 they plan to be at Monday night’s school board meeting.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.