The Viking Early College, a partnership between Spartanburg School
District 7 and Spartanburg Community College, received a $25,000
donation on behalf of AT&T at a forum on transforming education
across the state Monday afternoon.
The Transform Upstate Forum was held in connection with Transform
SC, a collection of business leaders, superintendents, administrators
and school board members, to discuss how to transform education across
the Upstate and beyond.
Ted Creech, director of external affairs at AT&T, compared the
educational efforts of Transform SC to transformations and investments
the company has made over the years. “I’m here for another investment,
an investment in our community and an investment in our children,” said
Creech, a Spartanburg native and graduate of Dorman High School.
He went on to speak about the importance of changing education so
that students will be ready for the real world before presenting a
$50,000 check to Russell Booker, Spartanburg District 7 superintendent
and Carol Farrington, principal of Midlands Middle College. The money
will be split evenly between the two programs. “We really wanted our
community to hear about what was going on here,” said Booker. “This
program and programs like it have lots of potential for our state.”
The Viking Early College blends high school and college, shrinking
the time needed to complete a high school diploma and the first two
years of college. The program is in its first year, with a class of 19
young men from Spartanburg High School enrolled. The early college is
structured to allow first-generation college attendees the opportunity
to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree,
or two years of college credit. Booker said the decision to make the
program all-male was made because young men in the area were found to be
less likely than other demographic groups to continue education after
Booker said he hopes the money will be used to expose the students
of Viking Early College to local and statewide communities. “Hopefully
the funding will provide them with that experience,” he said.
While addressing the crowd, Booker announced that a second,
co-educational early college program in Spartanburg County will begin in
August. He said 25 students will be learning full-time on the main
campus of Spartanburg Community College. The new early college will be a
combined effort of all seven Spartanburg school districts.
Trenton Byrd, one of the students enrolled in the program, said he
was inspired by cooking with his mother and grandmother, and wants to
double-major in chemistry and culinary arts in the future.
“The program means so much to me,” he said. “I can have what my parents didn’t, and give it to my kids, if I have kids.”
Angel Martinez said the program makes sure he is doing the maximum
he can with his intellectual abilities as he prepares for the future.
Malik Brent said that he learned a lot from the program’s recent
trip to the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia, saying it
gave him a glimpse into what college life is really like.
Thomas Calvert, another Viking Early College student, said he was
inspired by his father, a welder, and wants to study to become an
underwater welder, saying it was more challenging than what his father
“My parents couldn’t really afford to send me through college,” he
said. “This program is giving me that opportunity at a college