Scholars Academy families say proposal by Horry County Schools hurts students

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A group of Horry County parents and students say they’re concerned about proposed changes to the Scholars Academy high school.

Halie Hightower, who’s a sophomore at Scholars, says she’s afraid the proposal by Horry County Schools would force her to choose between going to the high school near her home and Scholars, where she takes more advanced classes.

“I was told that I would be able to still be a part of my base school, but go to a program school where I could take college classes,” Hightower said. “I’m worried about how this (proposal) will affect our school and our community.”

HCS is proposing Scholars, which is on the campus of Coastal Carolina University, becomes a standalone school starting next academic year. The proposal would mean all Scholars students would be ranked together. Right now, they are ranked and graduate at their base high school, which is in the HCS attendance area where they live.

Some families say they fear that change would mean less scholarship money.

“In South Carolina, GPA means a lot, but what means more is your position or your rank,” said Stephen Stec, who’s a senior at Scholars.

“Many of these kids may not qualify for the highest scholarships in South Carolina and that would be detrimental to them,” said Paul Richardson, who’s the father of a recent Scholars graduate and a current junior.

Parents also say this change would make students more competitive and less likely to work together. That could affect their research, other projects and collaborative skills needed in college or their careers.

The students also say they should be a part of their home high school and Scholars.

“We like to go to a lot of the athletic events,” said Stec, whose base school is Conway High School. “We try to stay in touch with the clubs. We still keep connections at the base school. It’s not like we’re disconnecting.”

An HCS spokesperson says there haven’t been any changes to the proposal for Scholars since last week’s board meeting. That’s when parents and students from Scholars, as well as the Academy for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (AAST), told the board why they oppose the changes. The HCS board has also proposed limiting AAST to 11th and 12th grades.

The next full HCS board meeting is Oct. 21.

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