Jasper’s own Air Force Gen. “Fig” Newton welcomes student enrollees to Polaris Tech.
As almost 300 students begin enrolling at Polaris Tech Charter School in Ridgeland, Jasper County’s own retired four-star Air Force General Lloyd “Fig” Newton continues to find ways to support the school and his community.
Newton, a founding member of Polaris Tech, is providing T-shirts for all newly-enrolled students. The shirts, sporting the school logo, will be distributed throughout this month and into May as families complete the enrollment process.
"My Air Force career was built around team-building, and for our new students in our new school, having a logo T-shirt for Polaris Tech is something I wanted to participate in to build our new team," Newton said.
"Polaris Tech is the right program at the righl lime for the Lowcountry, and we want to spread that excitement," he said. "It is certainly my privilege to be part of the team that created the vision for Polaris Tech and is shepherding it through to a grand opening this summer."
Volunteers will be available Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m. until noon at Ridgeland Baptist Church Community Room to help families with completing the enrollment documents. Polaris Tech conducted a computerized lottery April 3 to detennine which students received enrollment offers and which were put on waiting lists.
Families have until April 20 to accept the enrollment offer and until May 6 to submit the required documents. Students on the waiting lists are encouraged to check their ScboolMint account after April 20 to see if their standing bas changed.
Newton, from Ridgeland and a graduate of Jasper County High School, was the first AfricanAmerican pilot with the Air Force Thunderbirds. He flew 269 combat missions in Vietnam and 79 over North Vietnam during that war. He has commanded three wings and an air division, and held nwnerous staff positions. From 1993 to I 995 he was director of operations for the U.S. Special Operations Command. Newton was a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours including time in the F-4, F-15, F-16, C-12 and F-117 stealth fighter cockpits.
With Newton's help and focus, Polaris Tech is a state-approved charter school to serve middle and high school students from Jasper County and the Lowcountry. It is a free school (no tuition), that will focus on preparing young people for successful work and college.
The Polaris Tech academic emphasis will be on six career areas: Aerospace, Health Science, Information Technology, Logistics, Advanced Manufacturing, and Business Management. Polaris Tech expects to enroll about 280 students in grades 6-10 for the school year starting in August.
The school is being built on land across from the Ridgeland Airport. Steel structural beams are being raised and the exterior walls and roof will go up in coming weeks.
Dr. Melissa Crosby will serve as Polaris Tech's executive director. Most recently principal at Colleton County High School, she also launched Cougar New Tech, a school-within-a-school that mirrors Polaris Tech's project-based learning and inquiry approach.