Continuum offers students alterative path to education
BOB SLOAN Editor
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Continuum, Lake City’s state-of-the-art regional education center, on Aug. 6, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster paused to look around and take in the facility’s colorful, open and inviting design.
“This place is quite impressive, isn’t it?” asked the governor, a question seemingly more rhetorical than inquisitive in nature.
During his earlier remarks, McMaster not only complimented the modern appearance of the 46,000-square-foot building, but also the forethought and vision that went into its planning and construction. He said the Continuum is a great example of people willing to collaborate, communicate and cooperate, and that is an unbeatable combination.
“This is something that this city, this region and our state can be very proud of,” he said. “What we are looking at is the future of South Carolina.”
The Continuum, which cost in the neighborhood of $25 million, is a partnership between the Darla Moore Foundation, Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College. Students at The Continuum can acquire credits toward high school diplomas, certificates, two-year degrees and four year-degrees.
In addition to FMU and FDTC students, all five Florence County public school districts and The Carolina Academy in Lake City have committed to participating in the Continuum during its first year.
“We recognize that many of the students in the Pee Dee either lack the financial resources or the test scores to go to college,” said Darla Moore Foundation president and CEO Marion Fowler. “It’s estimated that more than 65,000 jobs are available in South Carolina. But they’re unfilled due to the lack of qualified workers. That void resonated with our team.”
According to a Continuum pamphlet, dual enrollment classes are available to both college and high school students. Courses will include English, math, history, biology, chemistry, art, music, business, computer science, education, pre-engineering and pre-nursing. Initial technical training will include courses in HVAC, welding, health sciences, mechatronics and advanced manufacturing technology.
The Continuum facilities include seven classrooms, three computer labs, three distance learning classrooms, biology and chemistry labs, four workforce development classrooms/labs, health science and CNA space, a large lecture hall that can be converted into an event space, and a business incubator.
S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman also attended the ceremony. She said there has been a shift in education where it is more than just making the test scores to get into college but building content knowledge and skills.
“(Students at the Continuum) will have opportunities here to develop their content, their skills and their character,” Spearman said. “That’s what we’ve got to do for every student in South Carolina.”
Francis Marion University President Fred Carter stated the Continuum offers students alterative to the traditional higher education path.
“There is no single path to becoming an educated person or engaging in a meaningful vocation,” said Carter. “Through its unique structure and flexibility, the Continuum opens new doors for students across the spectrum.”