South Aiken High School was the home team Friday evening, in terms of varsity football, but the entire school district had some of its highest priorities on display a few yards from the Thoroughbreds' stadium. 

Aiken Works, described as a "community workforce development collaborative," had a two-hour, tailgate-stye gathering near the front of the school, in an ongoing effort "to bring some awareness to not only the Aiken Works program but ... to the host school," as described by Larry Milstead, the program's lead coordinator.

That meant not only a tent-based setup at South Aiken but also a similar arrangement at Ridge Spring-Monetta High, where the Trojans were holding their first-ever game on their new field.

Alexia Cadle, a South Carolina marketing development manager with Pepsico, was among the presenters on hand, offering free samples of a variety of Frito-Lay products. "We are showcasing our 'walking taco with nacho cheese' tonight, and we are encouraging all the students to come by and take some samples, to see if they would like to feature it on their school menu, for lunch," she said.

A few steps away, several students from South Aiken's culinary arts program had "fancy pink lemonade" up for grabs, for a $1 suggested donation, and a large cookie was included as a free bonus. Grilled goodies and the chance for some beanbag tossing were also part of the package, courtesy of the high school. 

Also up for grabs was information about job opportunities with the school district. The gathering also had a decades-old rock soundtrack, courtesy of a van-based sound system from WLUB, also known as Augusta's "Eagle" (106.3 FM).  

The idea, Milstead said, is "to let the host school showcase some of their career and technology programs, as tonight we have the culinary program here, from South Aiken High School, showcasing what they can do, as far as students – what they're learning in the culinary program and ways that they can cater business events and whatnot that the community may have."

Similar free events are planned for Oct. 11, at North Augusta; Oct. 18, at Wagener-Salley; and Nov. 1, at Aiken.