Jan 27, 2017

Bridgestone Americas Providing Significant Support for Aiken High Students Through Accelerated Learning Program Implementation

Aiken High School students received a huge vote of confidence and pledge of support Friday morning when Aiken County community representatives from Bridgestone Americas announced a significant donation to the school’s upcoming accelerated learning program. 

Bridgestone Americas, a worldwide leader in tire manufacturing, operates a pair of state-of-the-art production facilities located in Graniteville in Aiken County.

“Bridgestone is committed to supporting the communities where we work and live. We believe supporting this new program will strengthen the education and skill sets of future generations of employees here in Aiken,” said Tim Painter, Bridgestone Aiken PSR/LTR Plant Manager.

Bridgestone’s generous display of community support for education will help to provide needed training and crucial materials for Aiken High School teachers as they prepare to broaden student perspectives while also increasing learning expectations through the upcoming implementation of a new globally focused accelerated learning program.

“It’s encouraging that companies in our community like Bridgestone are supporting K-12 education and extending a hand in building our future workforce together,” Superintendent Sean Alford commented.

Aiken High School has a decorated history of international involvement developed through previous International Baccalaureate (IB) programs and augmented with an active international exchange program and renowned world language offerings. Aiken High’s Thematic Program Committee of parents, faculty members, department chairs and long-time senior counselor Linda Strojan (now retired) reviewed reinstating IB, while exploring similar programs.

The committee ultimately decided to enter into an extensive application process with the Cambridge International Examination (Cambridge) program (CIE). Cambridge is a non-profit accelerated program offered in more than 10,000 schools worldwide that focuses on preparing students to become global citizens. Upon successful completion of the application process, Aiken High would be the first Cambridge AICE diploma program offered in the state of South Carolina. 

“I am very excited about this,” Ms. Strojan commented. “It was my dream to bring back IB to Aiken High, but after much research, we decided Cambridge was much more suitable for our students. I believe deeply in public education and what we’re doing in Aiken County to enhance it. Bridgestone is allowing us a road to help students become more able citizens. I’m certainly grateful for their support.”

Through the accelerated learning initiative, Aiken High School will increase academic rigor for all students, offer personalized academic programs based upon student strengths and detailed curriculum guides and support for teachers. Students will have the opportunity to earn college credit and an Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) diploma.

“Education is one of our focus areas of corporate responsibility, so we are excited to support Aiken High’s pursuit of the first Cambridge Global Studies program in South Carolina,” added Adam Barfoot, Bridgestone Aiken Off-Road Plant Manager. “We want the best future employees with strong problem solving skills and believe that by supporting this program, we’re doing exactly that.”

Bridgestone’s support impacts nearly 1,500 students at the school, which currently boasts an 88 percent graduation rate and a total of $15,471,955 in scholarship monies having been earned by the school’s graduating class of 2016.  

Aiken High’s Principal Mr. Garen Cofer, in his tenth year as educational leader of the school, commented on the “total transformation” he’s seen take place over the last decade, a change that extends beyond the construction of a new school and into academics as well.

“The end product for us,” he said to Bridgestone leaders, “is sending you students as a result of this program that come to you as results-driven employees ready to make an impact right away.”

Vice Chair of Aiken’s School Board and Aiken High School alumnus Mr. Tad Barber also shared his appreciation to Bridgestone for their partnership as he welcomed them as new members of “the team” with a small token of appreciation – a lapel pin bearing the school system’s new logo.

“I just wanted to say how much this means to us as board members,” Mr. Barber explained. “We’re thrilled with the building we have going on; but education is not as much about the facilities as what’s going on in them. We will soon have new facilities and exciting new programs. We appreciate Bridgestone’s support to partner with us in broadening the future for our students.”