CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - A first-of-its-kind program kicks-off at one Horry County high school Thursday. The program is called RISE. It stands for Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence. RISE works to keep young men on the right track.
It's a a direct initiative by educators to fight low high school graduation rates. They're doing so by inviting a group of about 20 young men who didn't maximize their potential in middle school to be a part of RISE starting their freshman year. This program is only offered at Conway High School.
Their participation in RISE will continue all four years of high school, and after. Conway educators and law enforcement created the program.
The point is to provide holistic experiences for the kids. Throughout their four years, they'll receive tutoring every Thursday after school with transportation home provided. Also, field trips, motivational speakers, college tours, an etiquette dinner and a community mentor are provided through RISE. The mentors are volunteers. Conway High School assistant principal Tanika McKissick said the program has mentors who are bankers, lawyers and coaches to community police leaders.
The money to do this is provided through Conway High School's budget.
McKissick said the extracurricular activities will help keep the kids off the streets as well as provide them with new experiences. She said this first class is like the 'guinea pig' for future RISE classes. However, she has big aspirations for what the program will become.
Lisa Clark agrees. Her son, Tyler, is part of the first RISE class. She said both of them are excited.
"I just wish you could be a fly on the wall and hear him talk about this program. He's like, Mimi guess what?' We're going here and we're going to do this and we're doing that.' He's excited," Clark said.
Clark has lived in Horry County her entire life. She said she's seen more kids on the streets of Conway than she remembers in recent years, and her son, who aspires to be in the military, will not become one of them.
"But these kids there's no, I don't know, they have no fear I guess. But they need to. Ugly things happen. Like we were talking a while ago, it don't take but one incident at 14 to mess up their life…that'd be his whole military career right there."
Clark said her son will be at every Thursday tutoring session, working on his grades to begin a successful military career. She said she sees this as his gateway to his dream.
"If the school gives 100 percent, we'll give 110. He's going to be here."
The kids will also take part in the Horry County Sheriff Department's SOAR program. The program began over the summer. McKissick said a big part of RISE is also showing the kids were they don't want to be. The 12 hour SOAR program treats participants to a taste of what prison is like.
The kick-off event is a community affair. McKissick said Horry County Council, Conway City Council, the Conway mayor, the school board and various leaders in the police department are invited to attend the event.