Companies back ECHS program with $100K

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 27, 2005

Three major corporations gave a combined total of $103,000 in donations to the Selma Early College High School program on Friday, with other corporations and government agencies pledging several thousand dollars worth of scholarships, supplies and textbooks.

Dr. Stephen Turnipseed, executive vice president of Pitsco/LEGO, presented ECHS with a donation of $80,000 for a technology laboratory. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company donated an additional $20,000 for the purchase of computers.

The John Deere Corporation also donated $3,000 towards the cost of a luncheon hosted by city and school officials on Friday after corporate and government representatives arrived in town to view the ECHS program first-hand.

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“I’m just so overwhelmed and so happy,” said Irene Smith, director of the Selma ECHS program. “To hear these pledges and their commitments to help not only just for today, but for the future, it makes the light a little brighter.”

Parents, students and staff of the new ECHS program met with the corporate and government representatives at a dedication ceremony held Friday evening at Selma High School.

Through a partnership with a math and science alliance known as SECME-which developed the ECHS curriculum nearly three years ago-these corporations are helping to fund the program.

The Selma ECHS was created after SECME awarded a grant to the city school system.

The school system partnered with Wallace Community College Selma, Tuskegee University and Alabama State University to establish a program that would give disadvantaged high school students a chance to earn their high school diploma and two years of college education at the same time.

The Selma ECHS program is the only one of its kind in Alabama, according to Smith

Phyllis Buchanan, Office of Education Manager at DuPont, said the company would be supplying the science curriculum to ECHS. The donation of textbooks and supplies, she said, is worth $10,000.

“At DuPont, we know the importance of being a teacher,” Buchanan said. “The teachers helps students grow. We want to supply them with the materials they’ll need to accomplish this.”

William Jay Jackson, executive director of the National Association of Agriculture Educators, said his agency would supply the ECHS program with a library of agriculture instructional materials, along with a scholarship for a student to attend a conference this summer in Lexington, Ky.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pioneer Hi-Bred also agreed to donate scholarships to summer conferences for students and teachers.

“We were excited to learn about the Selma ECHS, with its focus on agriculture,” said Deborah Taylor, a representative from John Deere Corp. “This being an agriculture program, we will have our sites on these students for years to come. As long as (the students) stay with the program, they will have opportunities for internships and full-time work with us in the summer.”

Superintendent Dr. James Carter said he is pleased with the response the program has received from the community and the SECME partners.

Carter added that he would like to have more local businesses support the ECHS.

“I hope, through this process, we will be able to teach children not only how to make a living, but how to live.”