Golden shovels, high expectations mark groundbreaking of Polaris Tech Charter School.

Golden shovels, high expectations mark groundbreaking of Polaris Tech Charter School.

Golden shovels tipped dirt in Ridgeland Friday morning as Jasper County leaders broke ground for the new Polaris Tech Charter School, a college and career-prep school scheduled to open in August to about 230 students.

Polaris Tech is a state-approved charter school to serve middle and high school students from Jasper County and the Lowcountry. It is a tuition-free school that will focus on preparing young people for successful careers and college. 

“This is an important day for Polaris Tech, but more importantly, it’s an important day for the young people of Jasper County and the Lowcountry,” said retired four-star Air Force General Lloyd “Fig” Newton, a Jasper native and founding member of Polaris Tech. “From here, our next milestone is the ribbon cutting in August, and from there, the stars are the limit.” 

About 100 people attended the ceremonial groundbreaking and speakers included local leaders Pastor Larry Scott of Ridgeland Baptist Church; Ridgeland Mayor Joey Malphrus; Ms. Barbara Clark from Jasper County Council; Hardeeville Mayor Harry Williams; Tom Draffin from True North Companies, and the Rev. Jerome Lewis from Kingdom Touch Baptist Church. 

In the background, demolition of the former hospital continued in preparation for construction. 

The Polaris Tech academic emphasis will be on college preparation and six career paths: Aerospace, health science, technology-intensive careers, logistics, advanced manufacturing, and business management. Polaris Tech expects to enroll about 230 students in grades 6-10 for the school year starting in August. Each successive year, another high school grade will be offered, with Polaris’s first graduates scheduled for 2021. 

Student applications are being accepted at www.polaristech.org through March 31. The school is being built on land across from the Ridgeland Airport and will open to students in August 2018.

“Our expectation is that students come to Polaris Tech prepared to learn in a new way, using technology in everything they do, and that they graduate fully prepared to succeed in college and a career,” said Sandra Chavez, chair of the school’s planning committee. 

“We are setting the bar high because our young people deserve our full effort and attention,” she said. 

True North Companies, LLC, a Georgia-based developer specializing in charter schools, leads the project. Cope Construction in South Carolina is the general contractor. Following Friday’s groundbreaking, area contractors and businesses were invited to meet to learn about upcoming bid opportunities for the construction of Polaris Tech. 

“Once the exterior goes up, we expect a number of our local contracting companies to help work inside and finish construction of our school,” Newton said. “We know there are experienced and highly-qualified small businesses in our area, and we encourage them to submit competitive bids.” 

Polaris Tech organizers anticipate naming their first Executive Director for the school in coming weeks, to be followed by opening applications for teachers and administrators. 

To keep updated about Polaris Tech Charter School, follow them on Facebook and at www.polaristech.org. For specific questions, email info@polaristech.org or call 843-645-0605.