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School Board Honors Spelling Bee Winners
By Anne Waits
web posted February 15, 2013
JOHNSTON – The Edgefield County School
Board met Tuesday night with a huge crowd in attendance. A Special
Order of Business spotlighted the school spelling bee winners and the
2013 Edgefield County School District Spelling Bee Competition on Jan.
16. "If you have never attended this competition, I'd like to extend an
invitation to the 2014 event," said Donna Strom, assistant
superintendent of education. "These students exhibited amazing talents
and spelling abilities. All of these students are winners!"
School winners were recognized as follows: Jemerol Scott - Douglas
Elementary School; Jaheim Mathis - Johnston Elementary School; Emma
Pedersen - W.E. Parker Elementary School; Colby Welsh - Merriwether
Elementary School; Andy Hoffman (First Runner Up) - Merriwether Middle
School; and Tiaja Frazier (School and District Winner) - JET Middle
Frazier will now advance to the Regional Spelling Bee competition on
Saturday, March 2, at the Morris Auditorium in the Augusta Chronicle
News Building. The winner there will advance to the National Finals in
Washington, D.C. at the end of May.
Several trips and projects were approved by the Board including a
request by Vann Clark of Strom Thurmond High School to take students to
the University of South Carolina in Columbia Feb. 14-17 to participate
in the USC Band Clinic; a request by Diana Wintrow of Strom Thurmond
Career Center to take students to HOSA State Leadership Conference in
North Charleston March 13-15; and a request by Jackie Kennion of Strom
Thurmond Career Center to take students to Atlanta to participate in
the 2013 Bronner Brothers trade show Feb. 16-18.
The Jan. 15 Board Meeting minutes approved and the Dec. 18 Discipline
minutes were ratified.
Under Instructional Services, the Board heard first from Candi Lalonde
with the First Steps overview. Lalonde began first with the origin of
First Steps in Edgefield County in 1999 with legislation from Gov.
Hodges, and reminded attendees of the School Board meeting that many of
them were in attendance at that first First Steps meeting.
"We received a level planning grant in May, 2000 and full funding in
2001," she said. "When money was good, we had over half a million
dollars." She added, "We don't have that kind of money now."
Lalonde explained that First Steps is a comprehensive, results-oriented
organization with needs assessments done every five years. "Our goal is
to make sure that each child enters first grade healthy and ready to
learn," she said.
First Steps sponsors seven programs in Edgefield County. They are:
Fatherhood - which works with fathers of young children and teaches
them how to be a part of their child's life; Family Literacy - where
parents get their GED and attend parenting classes; Imagination Library
- that enrolls children from birth to age 5 and those who sign up
receive a free book mailed to them each month.
Low income families are targeted and sponsors support the program;
Nurse Family Partnership - for first-time low-income mothers who
receive nurse visits from pregnancy until the child is 2 years old.
Edgefield shares a nurse with a BSN with McCormick and Saluda counties;
Child Care Scholarships - where First Steps pays half of the weekly day
care charges for low-income families. They also attend parenting
workshops; Child Care Training - where workers go into child care
centers and teach classes and offer assistance; and the Summer School -
which is run by the School District for 4 and 5 year olds to make sure
they don't get behind. First Steps provides transportation and meals.
Also, run by a grant program is First Books which delivers books to
each school, Head Start and day care centers three to four times a year.
Lalonde said, "The School District has supported us since inception. We
are located in the Chamber of Commerce, another vital partner. Carolina
Health Center helps feed children in summer school."
First Steps is going through major changes this year and Sen. Shane
Massey is supporting a bill in the Senate to reauthorize the
Funding for the program comes primarily from S.C. First Steps, a grant
from Zero to Three (a national child care organization), a grant from
Community Foundation of the SCRA. Center for Child Career Development
and the United Way. There are 60 sponsors for the Imagination
First grade detention has dropped by 18 percent in Edgefield County
since 2001, said Lalonde. Anyone wishing further information can
contact Lalonde at 803-275-0800.
A Web-Based Laptop Technology Pilot Program, based on Google, was
presented by three fifth-grade students from Johnston Elementary
School. The students used ChromeBooks to create a presentation on
inventions or inventors for Social Studies. Each student was given a
different invention and they each did the research, made a study guide
and taught it. The students also use ChromeBooks to do Web quests for
Social Studies. The teacher said that in six weeks the program has been
Next on the agenda was a Board Presentation on Freshman Academy by
Strom Thurmond Principal Jill Jett.
Freshman Academy's purpose is to improve student achievement; bring
back interest in learning; build relationships with teachers,
counselors, administrators and parentsin learning; and to create a
support system as students transition to high school.
Its vision is to make a community where each ninth grader will receive
a college and career-relevant education built on relationships.
The goals are to increase the number of ninth-graders who successfully
complete ninth grade; to increase attendance rate; to decrease the
number of referrals for discipline; to raise student achievement
levels; to increase participation in extracurricular activities; to
promote student awareness of post-secondary education and/or vocational
needs in planning for a career; to assist socially promoted students to
achieve on track status.
It is believed to reduce drop-out rates; reduce ninth grade retention;
reduce daily absenteeism; provide a rigorous and relevant
student-driven curriculum incorporating technology; promote completion
of a career component to establish a career direction; establish
classroom rigor through the use of data analysis; and to provide
concentrated assistance to socially promoted students and increase
their chances of graduating with their peers.
Jett expressed that the program would increase a love and desire for
learning, reduce violence, change parents' involvement, increase
teacher collaboration, increase test scores, and increase graduation
rates as it aids in the transition from middle school to high school.
James Courtney, facilities and operations director said the costs of
implementing the program would involve $18,000 (the major cost) in
facilities renovations including lockers, and extra entranceway from
the parking lot, a total of $30,000 in cosmetic changes. Implementation
would also involve the hiring of two new teachers, adding further
professional costs. Jett provided information from other schools that
have implemented the program.
There were many questions and comments from Board members and no action
as taken at this time.
Fifteen policy changes were approved at one time on first reading by
the School Board, including: Policy IHCA-Summer School; Policy
IKAB-Report Cards; Policy IKB-Homework; Administrative Rule-Policy
IKB-R--Homework; Administrative Rule-IKD-R-Honor Rolls; Policy
JKC-Probation of Students; Policy JKD-Suspension of Students; Policy
JKE-Expulsion of Students; Administrative Rule-JKE-R-Expulsion of
Students; Policy IHBIB-Primary/Pre-Primary Education (Child
Development); Administrative Rule IHBIB-R- Primary/Pre-Primary
Education (Child Development); and Administrative Rule
IHBIB-E-Primary/Pre-Primary Education (Child Development) Student
Selection Criteria and Procedure.
The Board also received as information Johnston Elementary School
Priority Report "Challenge to Achieve Plan."
Courtney gave an update to the Board on the Building Project status.
"We're ahead on three buildings, but behind on the field house," he
said. "Sixteen extra rain days have been granted. It has rained so much
lately, it looks like they will be working on weekends some."
Courtney also asked the Board for approval on a District Data
Management Level Data Software Proposal, Giving a demonstration on how
the proposal works, he stated that it would manage district data by
importing information from the main system to areas where it needs to
be more efficiently. This is a process that can take from a matter of
minutes to 24 hours now, he said, and is done by different people. This
is something that will need to be done along with the current building
project to bring the district's data system up-to-date, he said. No
action was taken at the time.
The School Board has talked before about meeting once a month instead
of twice a month, and School Superintendent Greg Anderson presented the
idea of meeting the second Tuesday of each month. This was also tabled
until next time.
With no other business the meeting was adjourned.
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