Helping Students Soar Higher

Those who grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, will recognize A.C. Flora as one of the major high schools, teaching more than a thousand students each year. In 1962, the first graduating class of A.C. Flora consisted of only 180 students. One of those was Charlie Farrell, who, in 2001, established the A.C. Flora First Five Years Foundation Fund with a $10,000 gift from his father, O. Wilson Farrell.  The fund was created to provide scholarships for deserving Flora graduates going on to higher education. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Jane Dyke, and the dedication and commitment of Flora alumni of the 1960s, the original $10,000 has grown to over $110,000.

In 2001, while still in the planning stages, Charlie spoke to an attorney who recommended Central Carolina Community Foundation as an alternative to managing the foundation independently, which would be cumbersome and expensive. Since establishing the fund with the Central Carolina Community Foundation, the A.C. Flora First Five Years Foundation has expanded to become the A.C. Flora First Fifty Years Foundation, with half a century of A.C. Flora alumni involved. Though the foundation is geared toward Flora graduates, anyone can contribute, making the fund not only an A.C. Flora effort, but a community one as well.

The scholarships given from this fund help, as Charlie says, “lighten the load a bit” for those students pursuing higher education. It is the Flora alumni’s way of giving back to their community and to the school that supported them. As for the experience of giving, Charlie says, “It’s terrific. Everyone wants to leave a legacy, a lasting impact. This is one of the ways we chose to do it.”  Now, the memory of the graduates will live on through their generous gifts and lending support to students, and perhaps even becoming the A.C. Flora First One Hundred Years Foundation.