From world language, advanced learning and leadership to STEM and STEAM-powered education, unique themed schools have piqued the interest of parents, guardians and educators alike. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, Aiken County Public Schools will expand its school choice options to 20 thematic educational opportunities to the community.

This year’s student transfer request period opened Friday, Feb. 1, and the window for transfer requests will be open through Friday, March 15.

“Our desire is to provide the highest quality education and be the unquestioned and preferred educational destination for all students in our community from pre-kindergarten through grade 12,” Aiken County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford said. “Part of providing a premier, high-quality education means offering exciting programs such as our new elementary-level focus on world language infusion of German, Spanish and Mandarin, and character-building Leader in Me programs, as well as advanced coursework and early college opportunities for secondary students.” 

Ideally, a student’s zoned school will offer the types of curricular and extracurricular options best suited to his or her interests. However, with a menu of opportunities as unique as the students and communities our district serves, we believe in a student and family’s right to choice and honor whenever possible their access to the educational environment most suited to their learning and individual achievement. 

Aiken County Public Schools offers Advanced Placement (AP) Academies at North Augusta High School and South Aiken High School, as well as the state’s first Cambridge International affiliated schools in Aiken High School and Schofield Middle School. Additionally, the district recently established an Early College program at Midland Valley High School, which allows students to earn an Associate’s Degree from Aiken Tech, alongside their pursuit of a high school diploma. 

Additional areas of thematic focus at the high school level include a future-ready curriculum of technology, engineering and arts at Silver Bluff High School, a leadership and military science accelerated program at Wagener-Salley High School, and an Agricultural Entrepreneurship and Health Science Farm-to-Table Healthy Living School at Ridge Spring-Monetta High School. A true college experience on campus at the University of South Carolina Aiken rounds out high school thematic program offerings with the Aiken Scholars Academy. 

Thematic emphasis at the middle school level beyond the Cambridge Lower Secondary Program at Schofield Middle School has been expanded to include the School of Science at Paul Knox Middle School, and a Modern Math Academy at North Augusta Middle School. Students looking for a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) or STEM-based magnet program can find both in the well-established and AdvancED accredited programs at New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet School and Jackson Middle STEM Magnet School. 

At the elementary level, student options are equally as impressive with East Aiken School of the Arts as a nationally-recognized arts-infused elementary magnet school, a focus on leadership at Chukker Creek Elementary School, Hammond Hill Elementary School and Busbee Elementary School, and the additions of world language immersion at Belvedere Elementary School (Mandarin Chinese), Clearwater Elementary School (Spanish) and Millbrook Elementary School (German). 

Each of these programs shows there are more opportunities to pursue individualized educational pathways through Aiken County Public Schools than ever before. 

“Our goal as a school system is to produce future-ready students who have all the skills necessary to succeed in post-secondary studies and the modern workplace,” Alford said. “These new areas of thematic focus will greatly expand the scope of individualized educational opportunities available here in Aiken County.”

Information related to this year’s student transfer request window are available online at acpsd.net. On the navigation bar hover over “I AM …” and then select “A Parent/Guardian." Scroll down and select “School Choice” on the left hand side of the page. District schools can also provide parents with this information. 

While the district's goal is to be as flexible as possible with regard to school choice to allow parents to make those important educational decisions for their children, schools that are at capacity will not be available for transfer. Transfer request acceptance is not guaranteed, though every effort will be made to do so. For more information about the process, call Michelle Bledsoe, administrative secretary, at 803-641-2420 or email transfers@acpsd.net.