Bringing Our Community Together

Category archive

School News - page 2

Schools briefs for August 24th-30th

in School News/Schools by

22,000 students head back to class

Teachers and school staff greeted about 22,000 students as the Beaufort County School District’s 2017-18 academic year officially got underway.

About 3,640 students – one of every six district-wide – are attending schools outside their zoned attendance areas in the third year of the district’s expanded school choice program. Parents can apply to send their children to any academic program at any school in district, regardless of where they live.

Curriculum options approved by the board of education include such instructional choices as Montessori, International Baccalaureate, arts infused, classical studies, dual language immersion, early college, leadership programs and advanced math and science.

Superintendent Jeff Moss expressed confidence that the academic improvements of recent years would continue.

“Our students and educators have produced solid gains in academic achievement over the past few years, and our on-time high school graduation rate is at an all-time high,” Moss said.  “I’m very confident that student achievement will continue to improve.”

Moss said the school district had processed an additional 2,000 school volunteer applications over the past few months.  

“That brings us to a total of 8,200 volunteers, up from 1,300 just five years ago,” he said.

Students at five Beaufort County schools were greeted by new principals:

• Chad Cox, former principal at Whale Branch Middle School, is the new principal at Battery Creek High School.

• Bonnie Almond, the district’s former director of innovation, is the new principal at Beaufort High School.

• Michelle Sackman, former assistant principal Whale Branch Elementary School, is the new principal at Mossy Oaks Elementary School.

• Jennifer Morillo, the district’s former director of teaching and learning, is the new principal at Robert Smalls International Academy.

• Freddie Lawton, former assistant principal at Whale Branch Middle School, is the school’s new principal.

District bell schedules are unchanged from last year, with elementary schools starting classes at 7:45 a.m. and middle, high and PreK-8 schools starting classes at 8:45 a.m.

Bridges Prep student named to national society

Suchir Shetty
Suchir Shetty

Suchir Shetty, a 10th-grade student at Bridges Prep in Beaufort, is the newest member of a scholarship organization founded by the Nobel Prize family.

Shetty was inducted to the National Society of High School Scholars by founder and chairman, Claes Nobel, during the summer. Nobel’s family established the international Nobel Prizes.

“On behalf of NSHSS, I am honored to recognize the hard work, sacrifice and commitment that Suchir has demonstrated to achieve this exceptional level of academic excellence. 

“Suchir is now a member of a unique community of scholars – a community that represents our very best hope for the future,” Nobel said.

Shetty said his favorite subjects are math and science and he hopes to become a medical doctor. 

He’s attended Bridges Prep since sixth grade and was among the first students to attend the then-new state charter school.

“Bridges is a good learning situation and if I ever need help, the teachers are always there for me,” he said.

Dee Matthews, chair of the Bridges Prep board of directors, said Shetty has worked hard to reach such heights. 

“Suchir has a strong work ethic, he applies himself and he has a strong family support system. He’s also a very bright young man with a wonderful future ahead.”

In addition to being a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, Shetty also is a South Carolina Scholar and earned entry to the Duke University Talent Identification Program – both based on high scores on college entrance exams.

“We are extremely proud of Suchir’s academic achievements and he has an extremely bright future ahead,” Bridges Prep Head of School Dr. Nick Ithomitis said. “Congratulations to him and his family on being recognized by the National Society of High School Scholars.”

USCB Beaufort campus opens residential housing

The University of South Carolina Beaufort is introducing a new living, learning community for honors BSN nursing students on the Beaufort campus in the fall of 2018.

USCB is expanding residential housing on the Beaufort campus, thereby allowing students to live and learn together in a select nursing cohort that offers a common experience and keeps learners accountable to each other, which is highly valued by the university’s students.  

The cohort structure offers students a unique support system. 

Students will be directly admitted to the cohort via a competitive entry process.

This cohort model has proven successful at universities across the country. Residential learning communities improve student engagement, develop a sense of community, improve retention rates, result in higher GPAs and help students complete degrees in a timely manner.

USCB is currently seeking proposals from private owners of housing facilities in the local Beaufort community for student housing to accommodate the nursing cohort. 

Students’ first two years are spent on the Beaufort campus in preparation for completion of the BSN, the last two years of which are delivered on the Bluffton campus.

Firefighters seek to keep kids safe in classroom

in School News/Schools by

Burton FD_Jacob Kit_0811017a

With the threat of school violence becoming more prevalent, along with the unique challenges it presents to emergency responders, the Burton Fire District is piloting a new program based upon national studies with plans to implement the program in all of its schools. 

On Aug. 15, at Broad River Elementary School, the Burton Fire District launched the Jacob Kit program. 

The Jacob Kit is a small trauma kit designed to stop critical bleeding and will be placed in all 45 classrooms at Broad River Elementary School.

Burton firefighters hope this kit will bridge the gap between the time a child suffers a life threatening injury and the time emergency responders can arrive by their side to start rendering aid. 

This kit is based upon the recommendations of the Hartford Consensus. Shortly following the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a Joint Committee to Create a National Policy to Enhance Survivability from Intentional Mass Casualty and Active Shooter Events was formed by the American College of Surgeons. 

This consensus was built upon data compiled from military and civilian experiences and places emphasis on early bleeding control. 

The study “strongly endorses” civilian bystanders’ involvement, and in 2015 the Department of Homeland Security launched a national initiative called “Stop the Bleed” to encourage civilian training programs.

Burton firefighters have named this program after Jacob Hall, a 6-year-old South Carolina student who suffered a bullet wound to his leg during a shooting at Townville Elementary School in 2016. While he survived the initial wound, he died three days later. 

The kit was inspired by Angela Byrne, a 26-year teaching veteran at Broad River Elementary (BRES), who followed Jacob’s story and asked her firefighter/paramedic husband what she could have done if Jacob had been her student. 

With the community’s help, the Burton Fire District hopes to continue this program in each of the schools in its district. 

This program initiative at BRES was made possible through donations from Washington National Insurance, Kiwanis Club of Beaufort and the Stuart Hardy family.  

It is the goal of the Burton Fire District to keep this program a community-supported program. Fire officials feel the school district budget should be spent on educating our children, and that societal issues such as school violence should be addressed by the community.

Individuals or businesses wishing to donate to this program can do so through the Burton Fire District FAST team. Each kit costs $50, a kit plus supplies for a classroom installation costs $75, and installation for a whole school is approximately $3,500. 

For more information or to inquire about making a donation, email

School briefs for August 17th-23rd

in School News/Schools by
Children from throughout Beaufort County started school on Aug. 17, and many of them got some help to kick off the year with new school supplies. Here, about a dozen volunteers help fill new back to school backpacks with all kinds of school supplies donated by area businesses, individuals and a few gated communities during Operation Back Pack recently at United Way office on Ribaut Road. “We’re filling 600 back packs destined for eight schools in Beaufort and Jasper counties,” said Jaime Dailey-Vergara of the United Way. “We’re working through school counselors to assist in identifying students in need not currently being served by any other agencies.” Photo by Bob Sofaly.
Children from throughout Beaufort County started school on Aug. 17, and many of them got some help to kick off the year with new school supplies. Here, about a dozen volunteers help fill new back to school backpacks with all kinds of school supplies donated by area businesses, individuals and a few gated communities during Operation Back Pack recently at United Way office on Ribaut Road. “We’re filling 600 back packs destined for eight schools in Beaufort and Jasper counties,” said Jaime Dailey-Vergara of the United Way. “We’re working through school counselors to assist in identifying students in need not currently being served by any other agencies.” Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Six district schools earn arts grants

Six Beaufort County schools have earned nearly $67,000 in grants to enhance arts education in their classrooms, the South Carolina Arts Commission has announced.

Only one South Carolina school district – Richland District 1 in Columbia – had more 2017 grant winners than Beaufort County.

“Arts education enriches the lives of our students and our community members, too,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “The fact that six schools earned grants this year demonstrates our district’s commitment.”

The six grant-winning schools in Beaufort County were:

• Beaufort Middle ($12,458, ninth award) will use its grant funds to support a joint musical theater production with Mossy Oaks Elementary students; artists in residence; classroom supplies for arts integration; and a partnership project with feeder elementary schools.

• H.E. McCracken Middle ($12,294) will use its grant funds to develop a room called “Howlywood” in the school’s “Genius Village,” a performing arts lab where students will rehearse classic plays, develop original screenplays and create dance choreography. 

• Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts ($9,466, 15th award) will use its award to provide professional development for teachers; classroom supplies for arts integration; and support for lesson planning.

• Lady’s Island Elementary ($10,088, seventh award) will use its grant funds to provide professional development for teachers; artists in residence; student field trips to dance/theater performances and art galleries; professional development for teachers; artists in residence; and quarterly family nights for students and parents.

• Lady’s Island Middle ($11,209, fourth award) will use its grant funds to support artists in residence; new band instruments; teacher professional development; and student field trips to museums in Charleston and Savannah.

• Mossy Oaks Elementary ($11,275, second award) will use its grant funds to support theater productions, including one musical in collaboration with Beaufort Middle School students; artists in residence, classroom supplies for arts integration; and student field trips to arts-related events.

 The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment statewide. Created by the General Assembly in 1967, the commission works to increase public participation in the arts through arts education, community arts development and artist development. 

School buses are focus of new TV show

The Beaufort County School District’s Auxiliary Services division and its school bus transportation system will highlight the next “Our Schools” television program, which is airing on the County Channel.

Appearing with Superintendent Jeff Moss will be Gregory McCord, chief auxiliary services officer; Lakinsha Swinton, director of Student Services; James Morrall, director of Prevention and Outreach, Hopeful Horizons; Maria McClure, director of transportation); Tori Mitchell, safety supervisor; and Arlene Blue, bus driver.

“Our Schools” is a partnership between the school district and the County Channel.

The new edition of “Our Schools” will air four times weekly: at 11:30 a.m. Mondays, 9 p.m. Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.  The broadcast will air on local cable networks: Comcast’s channel 2, Hargray’s channels 9 and 113, and Spectrum channel 63.  The show also will air at those times on the County Channel’s website at this link:    

In addition, the show will be archived and can be watched any time at the same link.

For new headmaster, leadership is everything

in School News/Schools by
Dan Burbin 1

Photo above: Dr. Dan Durbin was the principal at Beaufort High School before being named headmaster at Beaufort Academy. Prior to that, in Evansville, Ind., he was appointed as the managing director of the Signature Learning Center. That school has since been recognized as one of the most successful charter schools in the United States. Durbin is married to Angela Durbin and they have three children. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

By Aileen Goldstein

Beaufort Academy’s first day of the new school year, Thursday, Aug. 17, is quickly approaching. And along with a new year, this school’s long history will be revitalized with new leadership — in more ways than one.

Beaufort Academy, known simply as BA, welcomed a new headmaster last spring, Dr. Dan Durbin. He will begin his first full academic year at the school with the 2017-2018 year.   

According to Durbin, “both Beaufort Academy and I are old relics.”

There is a noticeable twinkle in Durbin’s eyes as he talks about the changes that will be happening on BA’s campus this year.  

“Now our focus is preparing leaders for tomorrow,” he says. This direction came when he questioned what makes Beaufort Academy different from every other school. And while all schools prepare students for the future, for college and for life in general, the question Durbin came back to each time is, “Why BA?”

According to Durbin, leadership will be the backbone of the curriculum and the essence of the entire school.  

Teachers will participate in training upon their return to begin incorporating a leadership focus into every level of the curriculum.  The largest focus will be throughout the higher grades and will include four years of core classes for high school students.

The first of these classes will be a Fundamentals of Communication and Leadership for ninth graders. This class will focus on thinking critically and developing persuasive skills and will include a wilderness team- building activity in late winter.

Sophomores will learn about ethics and values and visit the capitol for hands on experiences. Juniors will be focus on community leadership and will complete a community service project.  

Finally, seniors will be matched up with a mentor in the community and complete a year-long internship that will cumulate with a senior project pertaining to the experiences acquired throughout the internship.

In addition to the core leadership courses required, students will also have the opportunity to take advantage of new electives offered this year.  

A new vocal music program, lead by Vic Varner, will be available this year.  The school will also offer a Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program and an international studies and leadership class.  

As for changes to the campus, construction is set to begin in January to add a performing arts stage to the gym.  

“We want to make sure our art students feel as honored as our athletes,” says Durbin.  

The addition will also incorporate a hall of fame to highlight the important contributions alumni of Beaufort Academy have made throughout the years.

Students can also expect the daily schedule to be different this year. Durbin says the school will use a block system that will include alternating days of classes for students.  

According to Durbin, students will also have more of a voice this year through a student advisory committee. This committee, alongside a parent advisory committee, will allow and encourage site-based decisions.

The community will also be able to take part in the changes happening at Beaufort Academy.  

The school will offer multiple community programs beginning this year, including after-school programs for students and continuing education classes for adults.  

Local children will be invited participate in a new sports development program, in addition to a variety of theater, music and art programs.  

Adults in the area will be able to take advantage of six weeklong classes that will be offered at the school on a wide variety of subjects taught by local members of the community.

Durbin’s excitement about the upcoming school year is palpable, his love of kids is obvious and his eagerness to begin is evident.  

Durbin sums up his entire philosophy with this: “We figure out what is best for our students, what will give them the best advantage, and then use that to develop our program.”  

According to Durbin, Beaufort Academy is committed to one thing: developing leaders.

About Beaufort Academy

Beaufort Academy is a coeducational independent college preparatory school of 250 students in grades pre-K through 12. 

It is governed by a Board of Trustees whose members represent the various constituencies of the school, as well as the community.

Beaufort Academy is an independent, nonprofit, Judeo-Christian school, which admits students of all races, nationalities, creeds and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The campus sits on 24 acres on Lady’s Island. 

Average class size is 16 with a student-faculty ratio of 7 to 1. More than 50 percent of the faculty holds advanced degrees.

In each of the last five years students have received combined college scholarship offers in excess of $1.5 million per year; 100 percent of its graduates are accepted by four-year colleges and universities.

Call 843-524-3393 or visit

School briefs for August 10th-16th

in School News/Schools by

TCL pins 53 at Aug. 3 ceremony

The Technical College of the Lowcountry recognized 53 health sciences graduates during its Aug. 3 pinning ceremony at the Beaufort Campus. The ceremony honored graduates of the massage therapy, medical assisting, surgical technology, radiologic technology, practical nursing and associate degree nursing programs.

The special ceremony allows students to receive the respective pins for their professions while being recognized by faculty, staff, friends and family. 

The ceremony also includes class speakers, pledges and graduation traditions unique to each program. For example, the nursing tradition involves lighting of a lamp, a nod to Florence Nightingale who carried a lamp to light her path as she cared for the sick and dying soldiers during the Crimean War.

In the last five years, TCL has graduated nearly 500 health care professionals. After completing these programs, graduates will pursue licensing and become healthcare professionals in Lowcountry hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, physician offices, assisted living facilities, schools and more. Others will choose to continue their education. 

For more information, visit

The graduates are:

• Massage Therapy: David Audelo, Devon J. Anthony, Laurel A. Berkey, Juliette Jenkins-Smith, Sarah A. Rider and Latoya Smalls, all of Beaufort County; Kayla M. Harmon of Jasper County; Cynthia Mills of Hampton County; and Bethany K. Skipper of Chatham County, Ga.

• Medical Assisting: Renita Drayton and Roslyn Todd, both of Beaufort; and Shakeri Stephens of Hampton.

• Surgical Technology: Jasmine Simmons, Lisa Vogel, Ryan Arbuckle, Kindra Blodgett, AJ Herrera-Moreno, Cherelle Poole, Tracy Mason, Lexy Cajigas and Jonathan Cohen, all of Beaufort; Jerri Bess of Jasper; Jenea Boni of Chatham; Judith Johnston of Effingham; and Kenna Robertson of Colleton.

• Radiologic Technology: Toni Ellis, Rudolph Golec, Wendy Hollingsworth, Natalie McQuillen, Ilsy Olan, Alexander Ramos, Sara Ricketts, Frank Sliva, Lauryn Strozier and Ashley Wallace, all of Beaufort; Bobbi Sue Harmon, of Chatham, Ga.; Chelsea Nicholson of Colleton; and Faith Rea of Hampton. 

• Practical Nursing: Korey D. Burns of Chatham; Mary Louise Frame, Tracy L. Kinard and Lakisha D. Spiegel, all of Beaufort; and Stevi J. Mingledorff of Jasper.

• Associate Degree Nursing: ChiRhonda M. Neal, Shannon O. Angelo, Ashley L. Campbell, Alexis B. Clark, Taylor E. Lammy and Olivia W.P. Lanava, all of Beaufort; Terrand J. Eady of Hampton; Melissa A. Ford of Jasper; David J. Laumeyer of Chatham; and Taylor M. Price of Effingham. 

Teacher of year finalists announced

Five classroom teachers have been named as finalists for Beaufort County’s 2017-2018 District Teacher of the Year.

The finalists are Duncan Aspinwall-Winter, an IB History teacher at Hilton Head Island High School; Angela Bellantone, a literacy coach at Bluffton Middle School; Jennifer Friend-Kerr, a third-grade teacher at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts; Meredith Rhoden, an engineering teacher at Beaufort Elementary School; and Dr. Nancy Ungvarsky, a biology teacher at Beaufort High School.

Superintendent Jeff Moss announced the five selections before an audience of hundreds of educators at the opening session of Summer Institute 2017, the district’s annual three-day summer professional development conference. This year’s conference is being held at May River High School.

“Great teaching is the No. 1 ingredient in an excellent education, and today we announced five top-notch professionals who epitomize great teaching,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Our finalists are terrific representatives for all of our district’s teachers.”

The District Teacher of the Year will be announced Friday, Sept. 22, at an awards breakfast.

Becoming District Teacher of the Year is a three-step process that began when school-level teachers of the year were selected in April. Those wishing to compete for District Teacher of the Year submitted detailed applications in June.

In the second step, a selection committee consisting of parents, former educators and community leaders from across Beaufort County reviewed the applications and rated them using a numerical scoring system. The five highest-scoring applicants were named as finalists. 

In the next step, the five finalists will be interviewed by a separate review committee again composed of judges from across the county. The judges will begin by reviewing a video of each teacher doing a classroom lesson.  

The judges will then score candidates based on how well they respond to questions about their teaching methods as shown in the video, as well as how they respond to questions about current education issues.  

After those interviews, the panel will select a District Teacher of the Year to represent Beaufort County’s classroom professionals.

The current Teacher of the Year is Hilton Head Island High School teacher Beth McMurray.

School briefs for July 27th-August 2nd

in School News/Schools by

United Way collecting school supplies 

Women United of the United Way of the Lowcountry is coordinating Operation Backpack again this year to help more than 435 students at six elementary schools in Beaufort and Jasper counties prepare for the school year. 

This program will provide students with a new backpack filled with school supplies and uniforms. 

Operation Backpack aims to fill the gap and help students who are not served by other agencies by working with local guidance counselors and social workers to identify children needing school supplies at Hardeeville Elementary, Red Cedar Elementary, Ridgeland Elementary, Shanklin Elementary, St. Helena Elementary and Whale Branch Elementary.  

The United Way of the Lowcountry is collecting school supplies for Operation Backpack through Friday, July 29. 

The supplies include:

• Pocket folders (two pockets)

• Crayola washable markers

• #2 pencils (box of 12 count)

• Pencil bag (with three holes to fit into binder)

• Pencil sharpener

• Ruler (12 inch, clear if possible)

• Scissors (5 inch)

• Ear buds

• Glue sticks

• Composition notebook (marble)

• Index cards

• Three-ring binder (1 inch or 1 1/2 inch)

• Highlighter (yellow)

• Dividers for binders

• Hand sanitizer

• Box of facial tissue

• Backpack (standard size, no wheels)

• Gift cards (Old Navy and Walmart to purchase uniform shirts)

Donation boxes have been placed at numerous locations throughout the Lowcountry including:  

• Beaufort Fire Station, 135 Ribaut Road, Beaufort

• Beaufort Jasper Water & Sewer Authority, 6 Snake Road, Okatie

• Lowcountry Insurance, 80 Lady’s Island Drive, Lady’s Island

• United Way of the Lowcountry offices at 2266 Boundary St. in Beaufort; 10 Buckingham Plantation Drive, Suite D, in Bluffton; and 1509 Grays Highway in Ridgeland

• Walmart (Beaufort Store), 350 Robert Smalls Parkway

Gift cards and checks should be mailed to United Way of the Lowcountry, P.O. Box 202, Beaufort, SC  29901.

(Note:  Checks need to be made out to United Way of the Lowcountry with “Operation Backpack” in the memo)

For more information, visit; or contact Jaime Dailey-Vergara at or call 843-982-3040.  

Board of Education elects new officers

From left are Geri Kinton, Earl Campbell and David Striebinger. Photo provided.
From left are Geri Kinton, Earl Campbell and David Striebinger. Photo provided.

The Beaufort County Board of Education voted recently to elevate Vice Chair Earl Campbell to the chairmanship, replacing Patricia Felton-Montgomery, who resigned from the board last month.

Secretary Geri Kinton was elected vice chair, and board member David Striebinger was elected secretary.  

The three officers’ terms will run through the next scheduled officer elections in January 2019.

Campbell’s 27 years of service on the board make him its longest-serving current member. He served in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Vietnam as a combat medic, and earned his GED while in the Army.  

After retiring from the service, he returned to Beaufort and attended the Technical College of the Lowcountry and the University of South Carolina Beaufort to study business and criminal justice.  

After college, he worked with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and later with a home construction company.

Chinese students visiting Bridges Prep

A group of 20 Chinese students and three adult chaperones from Wenzhou High School, outside of Shanghai, are visiting Bridges Prep the week of July 22-29. 

The group participated in team building and STEM projects at Bridges.  

The Chinese stayed with Bridges families and participated in many local events. 

They also spent a day in Charleston. 

Last April, 12 Bridges students and three staff members visited Wenzhou High School. A partnership was formed and school officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

To learn more about Bridges Preparatory School, visit or call 843-982-7737. 

Children invited to Gospel explosion

A Back To School Gospel Explosion will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 29, at the Healing Revival Deliverance Center at 21 Outreach Lane in Beaufort.

Children of all ages are invited and the theme is “You are God’s Special Treasure,” with the scripture of St. John 3:16.

Volunteers needed to help with grief

Losing a loved one is never easy, but it can be even harder for a child. 

You can make a difference in a student’s life by serving as a Bereavement Support Group volunteer facilitator.  

Friends of Caroline Hospice offers bereavement support groups in the local schools for children in grades K-12 that are in need. 

For more information, call 843-525-6257.  

Group to hold Backpack Bash

Mentoring Young Minds, a nonprofit organization, will host its first Back to School Backpack Bash on Saturday, Aug. 12, at the John Parker Park in Port Royal.

The group plans to give away 300 backpacks with some schools supplies in them. 

Email for more information.

School briefs for July 20th-26th

in School News/Schools by

American Legion awards scholarships

Post 9 Commander Chuck Lurey presents Luke Harper, a 2017 graduate of Beaufort Academy, with his educational scholarship. Harper will be attending USC.
Post 9 Commander Chuck Lurey presents Luke Harper, a 2017 graduate of Beaufort Academy, with his educational scholarship. Harper will be attending USC.
Post 9 Commander Chuck Lurey presents John Cole Floyd, a 2017 graduate of the Community Bible Church Christian Academy, with his educational scholarship. Floyd will be attending North Greenville University.
Post 9 Commander Chuck Lurey presents John Cole Floyd, a 2017 graduate of the Community Bible Church Christian Academy, with his educational scholarship. Floyd will be attending North Greenville University.

American Legion Beaufort Post 9 is encouraging educational excellence and good citizenship with the award of scholarships to graduating high school seniors who will be attending universities this fall.  

Luke Harper and John Cole Floyd were selected to receive scholarships in 2017.

Bridges Prep students continue studies at camps

While most students are enjoying a summer away from classes, more than a dozen Bridges Prep students are expanding their international connections and leadership skills at two New England camps in July.

Eight students, a guidance counselor and Bridges Prep’s new Upper School principal, Chris Wilson, traveled to Maine in mid-July. 

There they attended a Leadership Camp at Colby College, followed by tours of historic Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and New York City.

They were working on their leadership skills alongside students from China, Greece and Maine, Bridges Prep Head of School Dr. Nick Ithomitis said.

The following week, a second group of eight Bridges Prep students and two staff members traveled to Maine for a YMCA Camp where they partnered with students from China.

Also this month, Bridges Prep families will host several students from China as they visit Beaufort.

“It is so important for young people to understand and appreciate that the world is bigger than Beaufort, bigger than South Carolina and, as great a nation as we are, it’s an international economy now,” Ithomitis said. “International study and making connections to students from other countries is an essential part of the Bridges Prep experience.”

The international study, Bridges’ emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), its commitment to the Paideia teaching and learning method, and overall high student achievement and growth in achievement combined in Spring 2017 to earn the school the State Charter School District’s highest award. As a School of Distinction, Bridges Prep also was named one of the top three state charter schools in South Carolina in May.

“We take pride in helping our students achieve, and offering these international study trips is one more avenue to education,” Bridges board Chair Dee Matthews said. “At the same time, we are expanding our high school curriculum and will be encouraging our students to try more rigorous and challenging courses.”

In November, 17 students and eight staff and parents will tour Greece for about 12 days and visit Bridges’ partner school in Thessaloniki.  

In April 2018, school leaders hope to send another group of students to China. Other international study trips include Italy and possibly Portugal in 2018-2019.

Bridges Preparatory School was chartered by South Carolina in mid-2012 and opened at near capacity in August 2013. Since then, enrollment has grown steadily with almost 600 students enrolled in K-9 this year. For the 2017-2018 school year, Bridges Prep will expand to 10th grade and in two years will be a full-service K-12 state charter school.

To learn more about Bridges Preparatory School, visit or call 843-982-7737.

Local students produce educational games

The Education Station at the Santa Elena History Center has unique digital games created by students. Photo provided.
The Education Station at the Santa Elena History Center has unique digital games created by students. Photo provided.

A convergence of three local institutions – one with college coursework focused on local history, one a local business that supports educational initiatives, and one a new history center seeking dynamic ways to tell a story – have led to the establishment of the Education Station, sponsored by Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort, at the Santa Elena History Center.

Professor Dr. Brian Canada, of the University of South Carolina Beaufort, challenged his students to create programming projects with a Santa Elena theme in mind. This resulted in unique digital games developed around many aspects of Santa Elena, the Spanish settlement of 1566 on Port Royal Sound.

“From building puzzles of old maps to racing in ships across the Atlantic and conducting commerce throughout the village – the variety and quality of games produced by local students, about local history, is very impressive,” said Megan Meyer, director of the Santa Elena History Center. 

“We’re so grateful that the team at Kinghorn Insurance believed in this project and made it possible. Furthermore, we are grateful to Dr. Canada and USCB students for contributing one-of-a-kind games to share with the public.”

These games are available for children of all ages to enjoy during their visit to the Santa Elena History Center, adding to the menu of child-friendly resources and showcasing the work by USCB students in a public institution. Due to success of this project, Canada will continue with future classes, allowing the inventory of games in the Education Station to remain dynamic.

“Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort is honored and proud to partner with Santa Elena and USCB to help promote education for youth in the community,” states a release. “This partnership will provide an opportunity to better understand the rich history, culture, significance and beauty of the Lowcountry. Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort would also like to thank the many individuals that have donated time, talent and money to develop the Santa Elena Foundation as it truly has become a gem of Beaufort.”

To learn more about the Santa Elena History Center, visit

School briefs for July 13th-19th

in School News/Schools by

Student data, instruction focus of ‘Our Schools’ 

The Beaufort County School District’s Instructional Services division and the many ways that educators use student achievement data highlight the most recent “Our Schools” television program, which is airing on the County Channel. 

In addition to Superintendent Jeff Moss, the show also includes Dereck Rhoads, chief instructional services officer; N’Kia Campbell, director of academic initiatives; Karen Gilbert, career and technology education coordinator; Daniel Fallon, director of accountability; Celestine LaVan, principal of Shanklin Elementary School; and Ashley Weber, a first-grade teacher at Shanklin Elementary.

“Our Schools” will air four times weekly: at 11:30 a.m. Mondays, 9 p.m. Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.  The broadcast will air on local cable networks: Comcast’s Channel 2, Hargray’s channels 9 and 113, and Spectrum Channel 63. The show also will air at those times on the County Channel’s website at

Local students graduate from Park University

Park University’s Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station Campus Center held its commencement ceremony on June 2 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Theater. 

Local graduates include Pablo E. Barrios, Brian Blecha, Keisha Danielle Bristow, Anthony J. Dobrinsky, Dwayne W. Farr, Debbra Ann Green Jones, Jack James Hunt, Lashae R. Lovett-Veal, Quang Lap Ly, Michelle L. Mayer, Chelsea N. Morales, Jonathan M. Peluso, Jordan D. Orellana Buitron, Kristine R. Raphael and Gabriel C. Thrower, all of Beaufort; Lisa L. Glover and Robin Green, both of St. Helena Island; and Irene E. Kellar of Port Royal.

School briefs for July 6th-12th

in School News/Schools by

School district selects Whale Branch contractor

The Beaufort County School District has selected a general contractor to supervise the building of a competition gymnasium and a performing arts center for Whale Branch Early College High School.

South Carolina-based M.B. Kahn Construction, which has offices across the Southeast, was the district’s top choice at the end of a selection process regulated by district and state procurement policies.  

The company, rated by Engineering News Record as one of the nation’s Top 100 construction management firms, has completed more than 340 K-12 school projects over the past two decades.

Six firms submitted proposals for the two Whale Branch projects, and their proposals were independently evaluated and scored by a panel of reviewers. Each of the six competing companies was rated based on the quality of its experience, past performance, personnel and the specifics of its project proposal.

As the district’s general contractor, M.B. Kahn will be responsible for supervising all aspects of building Whale Branch Early College High School’s new competition gym as well as its new performing arts center.  

District officials hope to open the school’s new competition gym in fall 2018 and the performing arts center in spring 2019.

Local students are named to deans’ lists

Nicole Clemons of Beaufort was named to the University of Rhode Island Spring 2017 Dean’s List.

Additionally, the following local students were named to the Dean’s List at Clemson University for the spring 2017 semester: Mary Margaret Bell Achurch, Jean Bridgers, Maya Dixon, Shelby L. Duncan, Sarah E. Fosberry, Benjamin L. Hetherington, Andrew T. McDaniel, Kody L. McHale, Jonah Richard Miller, Frances Dunbar Myrick, Tucker D. Pettigrew, Kayla Lynn Pope, Taylor S. Rabon, Jantzen Colie Raymond, Alexandra A. Sebestyen, Shivin S. Shetty and Kurt James Weaver, all of Beaufort.

Sanford is accepting internship applications

The office of U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-SC, is accepting applications for fall 2017 internships, which run from mid-August through early December. 

The program gives interns a glimpse into the legislative process in Washington D.C. while providing them with a way to test the waters of a given field by working on projects related to their interests.

For more information on this program, call 202-225-3176.

Students get up close to marine life

in School News/Schools by

Photo above: Bob Bender, left, tries to get the student to join him. Others in the group, standing in the background, point to a dolphin jumping in the water. Most of the students had never seen a dolphin in the wild. Photos by Bob Sofaly.

By Chuck Newton 

About 30 high school students and counselors from Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida learned about the coastal environment on June 22 at The Sands in Port Royal. 

The students are part of the six-week-long Resident Program of the mathematics and science division of Claflin University’s Upward Bound program, according to Kalinn Halls, one of the program’s counselors. 

“The program helps high school students study math and science away from their own school environment with weekly field trips,” she said.

These students were taking part in the “Live Between the Tides” program, said Bob Bender, curator of the Low Country Estuarial and Coastal Learning Center in Port Royal.

Bender showed the mostly inner city students that fragile life can be found even under a simple rock. He also explained how tides affect the environment while trying to catch a baby stone crab. 

“When we are done here,” he said, “we’ll gently place this rock back in place so as not to disturb where these animals live.”

Students in Claflin University’s Upward Bound program take a photo of the baby stone crab being displayed by Bob Bender.
Students in Claflin University’s Upward Bound program take a photo of the baby stone crab being displayed by Bob Bender.



Go to Top