Around our Schools :: Richland District Two, Part 2


One of the most arduous tasks for a parent is choosing a school for their child. This task becomes seemingly insurmountable when you add to the mix relocating from a different city or state. Around Our Schools’ intent is to sift through the multitude of rating scales, personal opinions, and yelp ratings, in order to tell you what you need to know so that you can make the best-informed educational decision for your child.  

Richland School District Two, Part 2

As parents we are tasked with preparing our child(ren) for a future we cannot even imagine. While such a responsibility is daunting, I assure you it is well within your purview.  Have you asked yourself when you should start educating your child about colleges and careers? If not, let me answer the question for you … today!

Do you ever wonder if you will be able to cover the ever-growing costs associated with college attendance? With proper planning and effort given by both you and your child, you can. This is a learning process for you, as a parent, just as much as for your child.

This month, Around our Schools highlights three additional Richland School District Two magnet schools: Center for Achievement (Elementary School), E.L. Wright Middle School, and Spring Valley High School. 

Center For Achievement

Center For Achievement(CFA) is a K-5 elementary school in Columbia, located on the campus of Kelly Mill Middle School. CFA is in close proximity to not only Kelly Mill Middle School, but also Lake Carolina Elementary Lower and Upper campuses. CFA prides itself on its school-based community partnerships.

CFA offers a smaller school environment for students centered around personalized learning. But what is personalized learning? Personalized learning is instruction tailored to the needs of the individual student. Center for Achievement’s philosophy is that every student can thrive in an environment intentionally designed to meet their needs. This is evident in their application process which includes questions such as: Briefly describe your child’s learning. What are his/her strengths and weaknesses? How do you feel CFA can help your child grow? 

As a school wide magnet program, CFA provides all students with a personalized, competency-based learning experience that is student-centered, and one where all students are true partners in the learning process. 

E.L Wright Middle School

E.L. Wright Middle School is located on Alpine Road in Columbia, and while it is an International Baccalaureate World School (IB), it is also home to The Leadership Academy at Wright (LAW), and the Language Immersion at Wright (LIW). 

International Baccalaureate 

As an International Baccalaureate World School, E.L. Wright is a school wide magnet program. Its goal is to develop students with the ability to understand traditional subjects, as well as the real world, while becoming critical and reflective thinkers. This is achieved through interdisciplinary learning. Students who wish to continue the IB program beyond middle school can do so by attending Richland Northeast High School, which is also a IB school. 

Leadership Academy at Wright

Do you have an average or above average student? Would you like your student to focus on developing leadership skills?  If so, LAW may be the middle school magnet for them. The application process includes the evaluation of a student’s leadership potential, as well as academic ability. If accepted, students will experience smaller class sizes and their traditional curriculum is combined with The Core Knowledge Curriculum, founded by E. D. Hirsch Jr., and Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. It is expected that students participate in LAW’s extended day program, 3:15PM thru 5:45PM, once a week, in addition to the voluntary field trips.

Language Immersion at Wright

Has your student participated in a Spanish language immersion program? If so, he/she may continue their studies at LIW. Acceptance into LIW is dependent upon a student’s previous language experience. For example, students who exited the immersion program at Polo Road Elementary, guaranteed admission into LIW at E.L. Wright. Students who are coming from a school with a Spanish immersion program, have attended school in a Spanish-speaking country, or are from a Spanish-speaking country, are welcome to apply to the program. Students who did not exit Polo Road’s program will take an assessment to determine their ability to read, speak, and listen in Spanish. If the student’s proficiency is at a level determined to be equivalent to his/her grade level peers, the student will be cleared to apply for the program within the district’s choice system

If your child is interested in both LAW & LIW, that won’t be a problem. If accepted, they may participate in both programs simultaneously.

Spring Valley High School  

Spring Valley High School is located at 120 Sparkleberry Lane in Northeast Columbia and is home to both the Discovery and Explorations magnet programs.  


Discovery is for students who are willing to, or who desire to, take rigorous math and science classes, and have completed Algebra I or Geometry by the 8th grade. It is expected that Discovery students take a minimum of six Advanced Placement courses by graduation and engage in individualized laboratory-based research under the supervision of a mentor.


Explorations is a challenging four-year, college-preparatory math, science, and technology magnet program. Students complete a 200-hour internship in a career field of their choice, create a portfolio detailing their experience, and prepare to present their experience to an audience.  

When applying to either program be aware that selection progress is just as rigorous as the coursework.

The selection process includes: 

1. The review of a student’s 8th grade first semester grades.

2.  MAP and PASS scores for 7th and 8th grade (or similar standardized tests if from out of district/state).

3. Teacher recommendations (current Math and English, plus one other of student’s choice).

4. Writing samples (done at the middle schools or at the interview for out of district applicants).

5. Application questions.

6. An interview.

7. A group activity completed at time of the interview.

If you are asking yourself “Which is the best school, the best program for my child?” The answer to that question continues to be any school in which you as the parent are involved. 

You see, it is the parent that makes a difference in the education of their child. So join the PTO, email a letter of introduction to both the teacher and the principal, and offer to volunteer. It is activities such as these that tip the tides between your child having a mediocre school year and a premier school year in Richland Two.

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Stephanie West
What do you get when you take an unapologetic Jersey girl and sprinkle her with an extra portion of South Carolina roots, one Stephanie L. West. After 49 years of living in New Jersey, Stephanie and her family relocated to Columbia in 2019. Stephanie is an educator, with over 20 years of experience, who received her Bachelor’s degree in English Education and her Master’s in Education Administration. While currently employed with Richland 2 school district, Stephanie has worked in elementary, middle, high school, and college. She is the mother of two very active children that keep her on her toes, Justin, her football and soccer playing 13-year-old son and Jordan her 10-year-old budding scientist daughter. When not attending one of her children’s events you will find Stephanie at yoga, reading about aromatherapy or herbalism, or trying out a new cupcake or vegan recipe. Stephanie loves all things outdoors, except the bugs, and when she finds a way to avoid those she would have truly found nirvana.


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