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School Board Honors Student Achievements, Talks of Sports Facility

By Anne Waits
web posted March 14, 2014

JOHNSTON The Edgefield County School Board met Tuesday night, with a spotlight on the District's Junior Scholars; Spelling Bee winners; and the Voice of Democracy winner. The S.C. Junior Scholars Program identifies eighth grade students with exceptional academic talent. The Edgefield County School District congratulated the following: (JET Middle School) Olivia Bedenbaugh, Garrett English, Mary Ashlyn Goforth, Gracie Herrin, Avion Mahoney, Jeniyha Padgett, Lakelan Rutland and Weston Whitfield; and (Merriwether Middle School) David Bombard, Meg Hoffmann, Clyde Houk, Thomas McCain, Zachary Russ, Avery Shapiro and Adam Weeks.

The District also participates annually in the Scripps District and Regional Spelling Bee. School winners were selected in December 2013. The school winners participated in the district competition on Jan. 21, 2014. The Regional Spelling Bee was held March 1 at the Morris Auditorium in the Augusta Chronicle News Building. 2014 School Spelling Bee winners are: Douglas Elementary-Jayden Butler; Johnston Elementary-Luke Dampieer; Merriwether Elementary-Andrew Kneece; W.E. Parker Elementary-Anna Caddell; JET Middle-Taniya Martin; and Merriwether Middle-Gabriel Heath. The 2014 Edgefield County School District winner is Anna Caddell of W.E. Parker Elementary.

Since 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars premier scholarship program. Each year, more than 50,000 high school students compete for more than $28 million in scholarships and incentives. This year's theme was, "Why I'm Optimistic About Our Nation's Future." This year's winner for the State of South Carolina is Strom Thurmond High School's Antonia Adams, who read her essay to the audience.

Trips and projects approved by the Board included: Marietta Epps Williams, of Strom Thurmond Career Technology Center, requesting permission to take students to World of Coco-ola in Atlanta, Ga. on April 17; Michelle Smith, of Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center, requesting to take students to FBLA State Competitive Conference in Charleston March 28-30; and Allison Rawls, of JET Middle School, requesting to take students to Oatland Island in Savannah Ga. on May 30.

Following the approval of the Feb. 11, 2014 Board Meeting minutes, Assistant Superintendent Donna Strom introduced Dr. Ann Marie Taylor, director of the Office of Exceptional Children for Edgefield County. Superintendent Greg Anderson noted that there were over 50 violations when Dr. Taylor took over the program in 2012. OEC believes in providing a positive, child-focused, instructional data driven environment, with internal monitoring and specific programs and initiatives. Taylor showed a brief video where members of the OEC Leadership Team spoke of the huge gains with these children in the past two years.

"Last year, we saw a huge movement of kids returning to general education who had been removed from self-contained classrooms," said Taylor, Of 3,431 total students, those students with an individual education plan is down to 578 versus 711 active files in August 2012. She made other significant comparisons as well.  Anderson said the District changed this program "to prepare our children for the real world the right way." This was followed with specific instances where children have made tremendous gains.

Also under Instructional Services, Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center Director Arthur Northrop spoke of advances in the digital arts at STCTC. He also showed a brief video showing some of these advances. "We're working for more grant monies--they (the students) will soon be making short films," he said.

He told how they have produced two commercials. "Some of the teachers applied for a couple of grants through DHEC and we were able to bring in a professional film crew that followed folks around and shot a commercial," he said. It was demonstrated on the video how the shots were incorporated into the commercial. Northrop said he looks forward to the students making many videos for the school.

"Thank you for supporting digital arts," he said.

Strom gave a Report Card Update in the State.
"The State has applied to the federal government for a ESEA Waiver," she said. "If it is approved, report card calculations for high schools will change significantly."

She also handed out copies of the Winter/Spring Testing Schedule for 2014.
Director of Facilities/Operation/Transportation James Courtney asked the School Board to approve $30,000 for two 30 foot by 70 foot by 14 foot pole buildings to be used as batting cages for the softball and baseball teams.

"These would be with roofing and pole structure without the concrete construction," he added. "The Booster Club and parents will provide the netting system for the batting cages. There would be an enclosed area for the pitching machines to keep them out of the weather."

Courtney proposed that the District roll over the money from the $38,000 that was not used from the purchase of the new bus.

Fiscal Services Director David Fallaw confirmed that there was a line item of $38,000 for the purchase of the bus that would be returned to the general fund. "We didn't have to use this money because the bus paid for itself in prior years mileage collected," he said. The Board voted to redirect the money for the use of the two buildings as batting cages.

In other business, the Board approved five scholarships at $2,000 each for the Strom Thurmond scholarships.

"Last year, there were five at $1,500 each," said Fallaw. "Strom Thurmond himself started these scholarships and they have been continued every year, paid off the interest. This is reviewed by administration and the high school."

In further Fiscal Services business, Fallaw informed the Board that there would be an informal Budget Discussion meeting on March 25 at 10 a.m. to bounce off ideas and to hear from administration "as to where we think we're headed." He said at this point he has not even received a budget projection and will get more into the budget in April.

"This meeting is merely to discuss some things we anticipate before I have the hard numbers," he said.

Under the Office of Superintendent, Anderson announced that it has now been determined that the District will have to make up two of the four days missed because of the ice storm. The Board approved these days to be May 26 and June 6. Anderson also gave a brief website update.

"We are sorry the website is not as current as it should be, but it has been decided that Stephanie Williams in the administration office will coordinate the on-site training of 14 people before school starts next year. We are working on the website."

From the Office of the School Board, Chairman Carroll Wates reminded everyone of the Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, May 14, at 9 a.m,; and of the SCSBA nominations for officer board deadline of June 27, the proposals for 2014-15 Resolutions deadline of June 27, and the proposals for changes to the SCSBA Constitution deadline of June 27.

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