Cool School: Pine Ridge Middle School - - Columbia, South Carolina

Cool School: Pine Ridge Middle School

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Students at our latest Cool School are as good as GOLD. 

It's the standard at Pine Ridge Middle School in Lexington District Two and GOLD is an acronym: G—Give your best, O—Own your learning, L—Lead by positive example and D—Demonstrate excellent manners. 

And the students follow this rule all year. 

This year was the first year the school also implemented their new LEADS program, challenging students to excel and reach their fullest potential.

"I've learned more than I ever have about design and engineering and discovered a new interest. And I think that's the case for everybody,” says sixth grader Sydney Coleman.

Coleman and 23 other sixth graders were selected this year to be a part of Pine Ridge Middle's new LEADS program. LEADS stands for leadership and education in the arts, design and STEM. Right now those select students are putting their minds together to work on building a robot. 

"We didn't tell them any exact way to do it. They're using their minds to design something, test it, and we use the design process -- which is once they create something, if it doesn't work, go back to the drawing board. Kind of like real life,” says LEADS instructor Kevin Smoak. 

The students learn life it not just about book smarts, but they also have to have essential life skills. It's a reason they always have to work in groups for projects.

"You're going to be put in a group and assigned to do something. If you don't have good people skills and you can't talk to them, then it's not going to be very fun for you,” says sixth grade student Jordan Fhetrone.

"You always have to learn to work with people you don't like or really particularly get along with. I have struggled with that personally because everybody has different thinking ways but you have to learn how to communicate with everybody,” adds Coleman. 

The students say the standards at Pine Ridge Middle help them become leaders. And teachers say that growth can be seen day after day.

“If I just step out of the way and let them do. . . It's amazing what will come out of their brains,” Smoak said. 

This program will continue next school year with this group of students going into seventh grade. There will be a whole new batch of LEADS students in sixth grade.

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