South Carolina Academies Join Throng at School Choice Rally
February 6, 2024 | Jeffrey Good
A group of graduation candidates and educators from Lowcountry Acceleration and Carolina Shores Acceleration Academies — two South Carolina public charter high schools — joined more than 1,000 other students, parents and teachers in celebrating National School Choice Week at the South Carolina statehouse in late January.
Shaylynn Grant said she was thrilled to get off the bus with her classmates and be surrounded by young people also pursuing a non-traditional path through high school.
“Knowing that there are so many other kids who are going through the same thing that I was going through, it felt really good,” said Shaylynn, who is currently working on her final course at LAA and hopes to graduate soon.
Shaylynn was one of the graduation candidates who hoisted the Lowcountry Acceleration Academy banner and joined a march to the statehouse to rally for the right of students and their families to choose a school that fits their needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all traditional institution.
“Being at a traditional school, I felt isolated,” says Shaylynn. At LAA, “we’re family and the coaches help us through our courses. Here, I actually get the one-on-one help I need.”
Lowcountry Assistant Director Bria Burke-Koskela said it was good for Shaylynn and her classmates to find themselves immersed in a group of young learners who are taking control of their educational destiny.
“We know that our GCs really appreciate the option to choose how and when they go to school,” says Burke-Koskela. “We wanted to give them a place where they were surrounded by other people celebrating the same idea.”
Before joining the LAA team when the school opened in 2021, Burke-Koskela taught English in a traditional South Carolina high school. Especially after the Covid pandemic, she said, she felt powerless to help some of her students from continuing to lose ground in a system not made for their individual needs.
“They were falling through the cracks,” she said of her former students. But that’s not the case at LAA, where she and other educators get to know each student on a deep level, helping them push through whatever academic and personal challenges may arise and mastering one course at a time.
“None of our students are going to fall through the cracks. Knowing who they are as people and what they’re going through matters to us first,” she says. “And it’s exciting to work at a school where the kids are choosing to be with us. They’re invested in their education in a really unique way.”
Shaylynn said being in a crowded traditional school fed her social anxiety, and that having to juggle multiple courses and deal with fights breaking out most every day took its toll. “I couldn’t focus at all.”
At Lowcountry, she found a calm, studious environment with a learning community — educators and graduation candidates alike — who are invested in each others’ success.
“Before I came here, I would have Ds and Fs,” says Shaylynn, who plans to earn her commercial driver’s license and build a career in trucking. “But since I came here, I have nothing but straight As.”
Tuition-free public charter high schools Lowcountry Acceleration Academy in North Charleston, SC, and Carolina Shores Acceleration Academy in Myrtle Beach, SC, serve students ages 14-20 and provide 24/7 online flexibility for high school completion. Get more information