Speaker delivers life-affirming message

Andrew Hugine, the president of South Carolina State University, gave Clinton Junior College students a life lesson during Clinton's annual convocation ceremony Wednesday.

"L" is for loving and respecting yourself, he told them. "I" stands for individual respect. "F" is for faith and belief in a higher power. And "E" is for education, which brought the students together in the school's gymnasium, and excuses that should never be made.

"I demand of you that you will set your standards high, that you will enlarge your vision," Hugine said. "You are going to be responsible for filling in the blank on this test of life you are going to take."

About 100 students and faculty members attended the ceremony.

The new academic year was marked by changes at Clinton.

The school ushered in two new programs and six new faculty members, an unusual amount of growth for the small, two-year college.

"It's very exciting here right now," said Janis Pendleton, vice president for academic affairs. "We're really rolling."

Beginning this semester, the school is offering programs in science and early childhood education.

Clinton already had programs in business, liberal arts and religious studies.

The religious studies program, which started in 2005, was the most recently added program until now.

The school won a nearly $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to implement the science program.

The school also recently won a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to enhance the community around the school. That money will be used to build and renovate houses and to refurbish a nearby park, college President Elaine Copeland said at convocation.

In the midst of all of that, faculty at Clinton are excited about the possibility of a new athletic and academic building.

Right now, it's just a wish, but Pendleton said the school will conduct a study to see how much community support there is for such an endeavor.

The new building would include science labs with much-needed new equipment, among other things.

In the meantime, science instructor Aaronita Belton said students don't lack laboratory experience.

"I'm very creative, and so are the other science teachers," she said. "There are a lot of things we can do that mimic the technology."

More things in store

Other things Pendleton said are in Clinton's future are a health fair, an open house to give middle and high school students information about Clinton and a push to become a smoke-free campus.

Students at the school say they've enjoyed the experience there so far.

Eighteen-year-old Calesha Parker said she likes the one-on-one time with instructors.

"It's a good place to be," she said. "It's small. Everybody knows everybody."

Pendleton said the focus now is on student retention.

"I think that the climate will become warmer and warmer because the new programs are generating so much excitement that people are going to want to be part of this new climate at Clinton," she said.