Review Category : School News

Class of 2015 grads awarded $30 million in scholarships

The Beaufort County School District’s Class of 2015 has earned a record $30 million in college scholarships, and its members have acceptance letters in hand from more than 100 colleges and universities across the nation.

This year’s record scholarship total represents a $3 million increase over last year and a dramatic improvement from $11.1 million just five years ago.

“The kind of improvement is encouraging, and it says a lot about the commitment of our students, parents and educators,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “It demonstrates our students understand the value of additional education after high school, and also that they’re willing to work hard to get that education and have successful careers.”

More than a thousand seniors donned caps and gowns to receive their diplomas during this year’s graduation ceremonies at five high schools across the district.

“High school graduation is a celebration that focuses on our students, and that’s as it should be,” said Board of Education Chairman Bill Evans. “But as we spotlight our students, we should also acknowledge the support they received from their parents and families, and also from their teachers, school leaders and staff. Congratulations to everyone!”

· Battery Creek High – 166 graduates and $5,743,872 in scholarships – The class valedictorian is Kierra Breille Grayson, and the salutatorian is Raven Nichole Chapman.

· Beaufort High – 264 graduates and $8,274,350 in scholarships – The class valedictorian is Alexandra Shae Zapp and the salutatorian is John Stuart Mattison Pike.

· Bluffton High – 264 graduates and $5,000,191 in scholarships. The class valedictorian is Sean Michael Greiner, and the salutatorian is Thomas Paul Gwozdz.

· Hilton Head Island High – 270 graduates and $7,868,208 in scholarships – The class valedictorian is Carolanne O’Fee, and the salutatorian is Elizabeth “Lilla” Felix.

· Whale Branch Early College High School – 95 graduates and $3,722,792 in scholarships – The class valedictorian is Austin Zavier Suarez, and the salutatorian is Rebekah Taylor.

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Bridges Prep names new Head of School

Dr. Benjamin Rollins, an experienced teacher, school administrator and college professor, is Bridges Preparatory School’s new Head of School and will work to continue the innovative charter school’s academic and enrollment growth.

Dr. Benjamin Rollins

Dr. Benjamin Rollins

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Rollins as our Head of School at Bridges Prep,” said Dee Matthews, Chair of the Bridges Board of Directors. “He brings an exceptional background, demonstrated success and enormous energy to our school. We look forward to great achievements.”

Bridges Preparatory School, chartered by South Carolina in mid-2012, opened at near capacity in August 2013. Since that time the school has grown and solidified its presence in historic downtown Beaufort.

The Bridges Board of Directors selected Rollins after an intensive six-month search. He formally starts July 1 but will be in Beaufort this month with his wife and two children.

“He is a natural fit for our school,” Matthews said. “Dr. Rollins is an amazing teacher and that classroom success helps him connect with both the students and the teachers. He also understands the administrative side of work and is ready to help Bridges Prep move forward.”

A former college professor, high school principal and educational consultant for independent schools in the Southeast, Rollins has established a proven record of investing students, faculty, parents and the broader community in a school’s mission and values.

Much of his research on school leadership focuses on Mortimer Adler’s work with Paideia education – the foundation of Bridges Preparatory School’s educational philosophy.

Already, Rollins has provided the Bridges Prep Board of Directors a proposed 100-Day Plan, which centers on three main areas:

1. Understanding the school culture – becoming familiar with the people, processes, partnerships and communities around Beaufort which represent and comprise Bridges Prep

2. Analyzing critical issues – identify and analyze primary issues facing Bridges Prep and to establish a priority in moving forward with the charter school’s strategic plan

3. Communicating effectively and engaging the community – improve communications and community engagement through responsive, open and honest communications practices, and to foster productive relationships with key stakeholders by delivering timely, accurate information and then listening to people.

Rollins brings 14 years of experience in engaging key school stakeholders. Through his work in independent schools and in the University System of Georgia, he has developed a passion for strategic planning, fundraising, curriculum and technology, innovative professional development, and accreditation.

He graduated summa cum laude from Berry College with a bachelor’s degree in English and also completed a master’s degree from Berry with a concentration in educational administration.

Rollins ignited his passion for Shakespeare and the Renaissance while studying at Oxford University in England, and he completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in early modern literature from Georgia State University.

From 2006-2014, Rollins worked at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, GA. Founded in 1876, the school serves about 600 students in grades 6-12 on a 70-acre campus. At Mount de Sales, Rollins served as Upper School Principal and previously as Dean of Academics, Director of College Counseling and an English teacher. While teaching Advanced Placement English, Rollins’ students had a 3.9 class average on the exam, which is scored from 1-5, and had a 90 percent pass rate on the AP exam with students scoring 3 or higher.

From 2014 until his hiring at Bridges, Rollins worked as an educational consultant specializing in student test preparation and helping schools increase enrollment and find better, more creative ways to evaluate teachers.

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Annual Senior Tea — A Beaufort Academy tradition

Pictured left to right, front row: Andrea Harry, Natalie Simkins, Julianna Dunphy, Emma Everidge, Taylor Vincent, Somers Cherry. Back row: Katie Gay, Tucker Langehans, Bryanna, Ferry, Bridget Baggerly, Casey Kahn, McKenzie Blake. (Not pictured: Molly Harrop.)

Pictured left to right, front row: Andrea Harry, Natalie Simkins, Julianna Dunphy, Emma Everidge, Taylor Vincent, Somers Cherry. Back row: Katie Gay, Tucker Langehans, Bryanna, Ferry, Bridget Baggerly, Casey Kahn, McKenzie Blake. (Not pictured: Molly Harrop.)

Beaufort Academy’s 47th Annual Senior Tea was held at the home of the Verity family. The tradition was initiated in 1969 when the BA Board of Directors’ wives hosted a tea for the women of the first graduating class. The special tea was their way of honoring these young women by sharing with them the southern tradition of gracious entertaining. In 1973, the Junior Class in conjunction with the Parents’ Association took over the event and continues to carry on the tradition to the present day. Congratulations to the young ladies in the Class of 2015, and kudos to the Class of 2016 and the Parents’ Association on a wonderful event.

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“The only easy day was yesterday”

U.S. Marine David Braman gives inspiring graduation speech at Beaufort Academy

If you had a child graduating Sunday from Beaufort Academy, they had the great opportunity to hear from a BA graduate who offered some solid life strategies for them as they take their first steps into the real world.

BAsenior-9732-100David Braman is all of a whopping 44 years old and has managed to pack a lifetime of experience into those few years. He is almost a native as he arrived here with a military family when he was a toddler. He, and his three sisters, grew up in Beaufort and came to love and respect this amazing place we all call home.

Dave always wanted to be a pilot. His memories go to a photograph of him next to his Dad’s plane at MCAS when he was four. If nothing else, Dave is a very focused young man. After graduating from the Citadel in 1992, he was accepted into the Marine Corp Officer Training Program. He affectionately calls the Marines, “the low budget rodeo” which given that they do almost twice the “protecting” and get about ½ of the funding that the other military branches, seems an apt description.

His training began in Pensacola at the Navy Flight Training School where at the end of training, those cadets at the top of their groups got to choose what type of helicopter they wanted to fly and Dave chose the CH-53E known as the “Super Stallion”. He readily admits that after life in college, some time back here waiting to get a slot in helicopter training school because they were backed up, he had to “retie his shoes a little tighter.” Some of that is probably due to meeting another future Navy pilot named Abby who later became his wife. But tie those shoes tighter, he did and then came a stellar career including three deployments overseas; two in Djibouti (better known to us as the Horn of Africa) which Dave contends is the “unequivocal hottest place on earth”.

He gave me the following summary of his career, “I have been to 6 continents, 32 countries, and 42 states. I have had many tremendous experiences and seen some amazing things. I have also had the misfortune to witness some awful things in some of the worst places on this planet. I have gotten to land a helicopter on Wall St. as well as at the foot of the great pyramids in Egypt.” Just your normal everyday life, right? Not so.

But for Dave, family came first, and his wife and new baby, Megan, wanted him home. And home he came when he was assigned to the Presidential Helicopter Squadron called HMX-1 based in Washington, DC. Dave has been flying not only our Presidents between locations, but also the Vice President and the five key heads of departments in the government on a regular, daily basis.

Sounds glamourous doesn’t it? A dream job? Maybe, but only if you can deal with the stress of flying POTUS to various locations around the world. But this job, and the Marines, have taught Dave the value of teamwork above all else.

Dave shared with the BA graduates the Navy Seal mantra which states, “The only easy day was yesterday, meaning – to succeed, you must work harder and harder each day, but when you find what you are capable of, you see how easy yesterday was.”

He continued, “As you continue to blaze a path forward, unsure of your future success, try to “bloom where you are planted”. Whether it’s in a college classroom, during a summer internship, or with your first full time job, work hard to be your absolute best…even if you can’t stand your class, your boss, or your job. You will eventually change all of these and you will want the best possible recommendation as you move on because your life may not unfold exactly as you have planned it. Build a strong reputation and hold your integrity sacred. Both will follow you for the rest of your life and will help shape and define your character.”

Currently, Dave is working on the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program for the VH92-A. Determining what the next Presidential helicopter will be able to do, how it will move, what it looks like both inside and out, is all in the works with his team.

But retirement is coming soon. Specifically, July 2016. What is next, you wonder, for a young man who has done and seen more than he expected when he graduated from BA many years ago? I am pretty sure it will be anything he wants to do, and I am also pretty certain, it will bring him back to Beaufort. I expect it will involve a team- a group of people working together to cause something to happen. Dave is the individual President Harry S. Truman talks about when he said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Dave believes with that as a guiding force, you will be respected, honored, trusted, and someone others want to be around. You will, in fact, be a Marine. All of those qualities you can see in David Braman. The future holds nothing but the best for Dave, his family, and all the 2015 graduates of Beaufort Academy.

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BA field trip to the Nature Center

The second graders at Beaufort Academy visited the Spring Island Nature Center, where they were able to spend time touring several different Lowcountry habitats with Tony Mills who is the educational director for the Lowcountry Institute and a master naturalist. The students examined many different plants and animals native to the salt marshes, freshwater ponds, and woodlands of Beaufort, and many in their natural habitats.

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St. Peter’s names Teacher of the Year

Emily Moore

Emily Moore

St. Peter’s Catholic School is proud to announce that Emily Moore has been chosen as Teacher of the Year for the 2014-2015 school year. In her three years at St. Peter’s, Emily has distinguished herself as a model of creativity and composure in working with her energy filled 4 year olds. Emily captures their attention and their imagination. Her classroom embraces the best of beehives and anthills: buzzing with the excitement of building together.

Emily Moore is a proud mother as well as a teacher admired by all.

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The Crescendudes of Beaufort High

SCHOOLS -The Crescendudes

The Crescendudes of Beaufort High School’s Voices Chorus performed at the Beaufort Harbormaster’s Spring Show on May 2nd at the high school. The newly formed barbershop quartet opened the second half of the show for the professional quartet, The Con Men.  Shown left to right are Quinn Singleton, Jakob Trader, Xavier Parker and Ethan Lundgaard. Photo submitted by Pete Dickerson.

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For 7th & 8th graders who love science and math…

The Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) is partnering with Beaufort County School District to deliver their iTEAMS Xtreme summer camp to rising 7th and 8th graders in Beaufort County. The day camp will be held June 15-18, at Bluffton Middle School. The online application is currently available at

iTEAMS Xtreme aims to inspire students to pursue careers in the fields of computer science and technology through innovative hands-on, team-based projects. Working in teams and using the latest technologies, students will create mobile apps using App Inventor, create interactive objects using Makey Makey and Scratch, and create 3D models using 3D printers.

iTEAMS Xtreme will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. The cost is $185 per student, including daily snacks, instructional materials and lunch on the final day of the camp. Financial aid is still available. The application deadline is June 8, 2015. Acceptance to iTEAMS Xtreme is based on academic merit.

Learn more and apply online at For questions, contact Darby Kirven at or 843-616-4048.

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Kimbrell inducted into Honor Society at Clemson

Luca Kimbrell of Beaufort is one of six Clemson University students inducted into the Nu Chapter of Delta Alpha Pi (DAPi) Honor Society at a recent ceremony on the Clemson University campus .

Kimbrell is majoring in Elementary Education. Luca has learned the importance of creating achievable, short-term goals for himself that he can work on daily. Luca plans to graduate in 2017.

Founded in 2004 at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, Delta Alpha Pi recognizes the academic accomplishments of honor students with disabilities. The three Greek letters stand for disability, achievement and pride.

All invited students with a documented disability must work with the university’s office of Student Disability Services and demonstrate an interest in the issues faced by those with disabilities. To be eligible for invitation, undergraduate students must have completed a minimum of 24 credits and attained a cumulative grade point average of 3.10. Graduate students must have completed a minimum of 18 credits and earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.30.

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Battery Creek High essay winners

From left to right: Gil Sanchez, Assistant Principal; Mrs. Jill McNamara, BCHS Teacher; Marcus Cook, BCHS Junior; Vanessa Madrid, BCHS Sophomore; and Ms. Kyctrell Swinton-Akins, BCHS English Department Chair.

From left to right: Gil Sanchez, Assistant Principal; Mrs. Jill McNamara, BCHS Teacher; Marcus Cook, BCHS Junior; Vanessa Madrid, BCHS Sophomore; and Ms. Kyctrell Swinton-Akins, BCHS English Department Chair.

Gil Sanchez, Assistant Principal at Battery Creek High School announced two winners in the Beaufort Jasper Water & Sewer Authority Essay Contest from BCHS recently. Essays were judged on promotion of innovation in water resources, promotion of sustainable and green ideas, grammar, style and creativity in outreach and education. Congratulations go to Marcus Cook, a rising senior and Vanessa Madrid, a rising junior. Both students received an iPad Air.

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