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Aiken County Schools Partner With Dell for IT Skills Course

The computer company and South Carolina district are working with a community nonprofit on the Dell Student TechCrew, a program to give high schoolers technical skills and industry certifications.

(TNS) — A new STEM initiative was announced by the Aiken County Public School District during an education luncheon Tuesday.

The Dell Student TechCrew is a partnership made by global technology leader Dell and the North Augusta Chamber Education Workforce Development Foundation. The project allows four area schools to teach students how to develop IT skills.

"It gives students in high school the opportunity to get an industry certification," Kim Boutwell, the North America Regional giving manager with Dell Giving said in a promotional video. "... We are creating opportunities for the students, opportunities for schools, opportunities for the community. It's so much bigger than IT support."

The North Augusta Chamber Education Workforce Development Foundation is a community nonprofit made to help coordinate this program with ACPSD. The program helps high school students learn more about IT-related fields.

This is the first Dell Student TechCrew course in schools in South Carolina. About 70 students are currently enrolled in classes between North Augusta High School, Aiken High School, Ridge Spring-Monetta High School and Wagener-Salley High School.

Students currently enrolled can receive certification by January 2022. Two graduates of the Dell program from Aiken High School have received their certification. One student is currently in college and another is assisting the school.

"We are creating a Silicon Valley right here in our backyard because we have schools that integrate technology," said Kenneth Lott, director of Career and Technical Education for Aiken County.

Aiken County's proximity to Augusta's "Cyber City" is relevant to the program and recruiting within the CSRA.

"You have an opportunity, right here in your backyard, to reallocate that funding somewhere else and come help Aiken County School District prepare tomorrow's workforce today," Lott said. "... Once our students receive this notification, they will be certified as Dell technicians, and they can go and work in any industry with this entry-level certification right out of high school."

Dell provides students and teachers the curriculum, mentorships and tools necessary for course completion. According to Lott, Dell focuses on rural communities and career readiness. Aiken County plans to expand the program to other high schools and middle schools.

Adding this program goes along with Aiken County's goals to make Aiken County different through new learning initiatives.

"I think all of us over the last year and a half or so have had to get used to different, and I don't think that's going to change ... I think we have to get used to different because the world is not going back to the way it was," Superintendent King Laurence said. "We've got to do things differently."

Lott said other ways to support the Dell program include donating old devices for hands-on experience and supporting these student accomplishments.

"The Dell workbench opportunity for our students is just one of those innovative things that we talk about, getting used to different," Laurence said. "We want our community to know that we are preparing students for the world. This is just one more way — the latest way — that we have of doing that."

Other school district administrators spoke about the progress of existing projects, giving updates about the use of federal money in schools, construction updates of North Augusta schools and COVID-19 impacts.

©2021 the Aiken Standard (Aiken, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.