Fifth-graders get lesson on Greenwood Promise

Mar 4, 2019 – By ALEKS GILBERT agilbert@indexjournal.com from The Index Journal.

Among the hoped-for benefits of the Greenwood Promise scholarship is higher achievement among the county’s K-12 students. If they know a degree from Piedmont Technical College will be paid for, the thinking goes, they will try harder and perform better in school.

Katie Davenport, the Promise’s new executive director, wants every kid in the county to know about the scholarship. To that end, Davenport has been spreading the Promise’s message in recent weeks, visiting the county’s fifth-graders to let them know they will not have to think about the cost of attending a technical college when deciding whether to apply.

“Raise your hand if you want to go to college!” Davenport asked a class of fifth graders at Ware Shoals Middle School. Most did.

“We are making a promise to you,” Davenport said, “that you can go to Piedmont Technical College and not pay any money.”

In another class, she asked the students whether they had the “magic number,” the tuition that Piedmont Tech charges.

“Millions,” one student said.

“Trillions,” another chimed in.

“That’s the national debt,” said District 51 Superintendent Fay Sprouse, who had dropped by.

While college was at least seven years away for the students, some were clearly interested.

Several students asked whether they could go to any college for free.

Davenport told the students the Promise might eventually pay for the final two years of a degree at Lander. In the meantime, it will only cover the tuition at Piedmont Tech or another technical school within the state, so long as the student is pursuing a degree that Piedmont Tech doesn’t offer.

“Does anyone here want to be a dental hygienist?” Davenport asked.

“What’s that?” a student asked.

“Well let’s pretend like someone here does,” she said. Davenport told the students Piedmont Tech does not offer the program, but Greenville Technical College does; if they wanted to become a dental hygienist, the Promise would cover their tuition at Greenville Tech.

“What if we don’t live in Ware Shoals?” asked one student from Due West. The Promise wouldn’t pay for her degree, Davenport told her because she doesn’t live in Greenwood County. But, she added, the Abbeville Promise, should it meet its fundraising goal, would.

Other advocates of the Promise had gone to schools elsewhere in the county to spread the word. In Ninety Six Elementary School, Brandon Felder, assistant registrar at Lander University, told students they could all go to college. All they had to do were three things:

Make good choices, earn good grades, and graduate from high school.

“Is this for real?” one student asked.

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