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Horry: RISE (Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence)

Team members: Row 1 (l-r) Selena Small, Johnathan Guiles, Reggie Hill, Jonathan James
(not pictured: Velna Allen, Judy Beard)

The Conway attendance area, which rests in the heart of the Horry County School District, is made up of 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and one high school. One of 9 attendance areas in the county, Conway is probably the most diverse one. It compasses the Conway city limits, rural farmland of the county, and has communities that thrive along the Waccamaw river. Conway is one of the oldest cities in Horry County and its inhabitants exhibit pride in the community and in the school system. It is an ideal place to settle down and raise a family.

Given the charm of the Conway area, you would never know there are data that haunts the area principals. Conway High School had a graduation rate of 77.2% based on the 2015 State report card, which was the lowest in the County. Out of the 9 attendance clusters, there were only three high schools (including Conway) that didn’t hit the 80% mark in 2015. Over the past few years, the middle and high schools have struggled bridging the achievement gap, partially created by the poverty index. Conway High School had a 75.7% poverty index on the 2015 school report card, with only two other high schools with a higher one. While the high school bares the low graduation rate and high poverty rate, we all realize that the issues didn’t begin in the 9th grade, which is why we are looking for a program that encompasses the middle and high schools. Many students, living with one parent or even grandparents, must rely on bus transportation to and from school, which prevents them from staying after school for academic assistance or to participate in extracurricular activities. 

When you combine the demographic makeup of the Conway cluster with the low performance, high run-ins with law enforcement, and high poverty rate, it is no wonder the Conway Chief of Police, Reggie Gosnell, and the Superintendent of Horry County Schools, Dr. Rick Maxey, nominated Conway City police officers and Conway school principals to participate in ConnectionsSC. As part of their training, the team has developed an “at risk” program they believe will alleviate some of the obstacles our youth face.