New school option for top students and elite athletes

New school option for top students and elite athletes
December 14 06:54 2017 Print This Article

Public school students in the tri-county area now have the opportunity to earn up to 60 hours of college credit with no cost to them or their families – and the chance to compete at the highest level in high school sports. Oceanside Collegiate Academy (OCA) is a public charter school open to all South Carolina residents. Students drive from up to 50 miles away to attend the school nestled in the Carolina Park neighborhood in northern Mt. Pleasant.

The school opened for the 2016 – 2017 school year in the old McClellanville Middle School building with 300 students and 20 graduating seniors. OCA opened the 2017 – 2018 school year in its new building with 550 students and 80 seniors and plans to expand to 650 students next year.

OCA offers a modified schedule. Students may either attend four classes from 7:30 – 11:20 am or from 11:45 – 3:35 pm. Athletes can practice in the morning and attend classes in the afternoon or vice versa. This flexibility appeals not only to athletes but to students who want to work, intern, or pursue activities, such as acting and dance. In addition to the four classes taken on campus, the students are required to take two virtual classes. Students may begin taking college classes as early as 10th grade. Most 11th and 12th grade students are enrolled in dual credit courses – receiving both high school and college credit. OCA hires adjunct professors who are vetted by Trident Technical College, and students take their college classes on the OCA campus.  Clemson, College of Charleston, and the University of South Carolina accept all college credits from OCA.

About 60% of OCA students participate in the school’s sports program, which includes 19 sports and 28 teams. Notable athletic successes this fall include the football team under first-year coach, Chad Grier, which finished  7-3 with all-star quarterback Sam Hartman. Grier is a former college coach who won four state high school football titles in North Carolina. The girls golf team won the 3A state championship, and girls tennis finished 5-2, including wins over State Champions Porter Gaud and State Runner-Up Ashley Hall. Students are looking forward to the boys basketball team, coached by Jermel President, a star at the College of Charleston in the 90s.  All OCA coaches played their sport in college and many competed at the professional level.

Although less than two-years-old, OCA has several academic achievements. PSAT results are 25% higher than the state average. End of course test passage results are as follows:
Algebra I: OCA: 91%, Charleston: 80%, State: 75%
Biology: OCA: 92%, Charleston: 78%, State: 74%
English 1: OCA: 99%, Charleston: 77%, State: 77%
US History: OCA: 88%, Charleston: 73%, State: 68%
Overall Passage Rate: OCA: 92%, Charleston: 77%, State: 73%

Academics and sports are not the only activities at OCA. There are clubs, dances, and pep rallies.  McKenna, a senior transfer student from Bishop England, instituted a mock trial program immediately after enrolling. The OCA mascot is the Landshark, and pep rallies are called “feeding frenzies”. The small school has a family atmosphere to the extent that its board of directors  wants to include “family” in the mission statement.  A parent open house with prospective 9th grade students toured a biology class.  A girl paused from studying her photosynthesis notes and told the 8th graders, “You should come here – it’s, like, the best school!”  OCA has a warm, welcoming atmosphere with  Principal Brenda Corley considering herself a servant leader.  She states, “My job is to support my teachers.”

Unlike Academic Magnet which screens students by test scores,  OCA students apply online and enter  through a lottery. Online applications are submitted from January 1 – February 28, 2018 for the 2018 – 2019 school year. OCA will be accepting about 150 new students for the 2018 – 2019 school year.