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Reverend Pinckney Scholars are named

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The Coastal Community Foundation has announced the second set of scholarship recipients of the Reverend Pinckney Scholars Program, established at the foundation in memory of the late Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney and in response to the June 17, 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME Church.  

“Furthering your education was always important to Clementa. He valued it and felt it should not be taken for granted,” said Jennifer Pinckney, widow of Rev. Pinckney. “I know that he is smiling down as he sees all of the Pinckney Scholars moving forward in life to improve upon themselves and strive to make a better future. This year’s group of scholars are amazing.” 

The four-year renewable scholarship program, which is dedicated to promoting access to higher education for African-American students, will benefit 11 Class of 2017 scholars from Beaufort, Charleston and Jasper counties who will receive a total of approximately $80,000 for each of their four years of college, in addition to supportive resources (professional development and networking opportunities) through the foundation during their college career.  

“Our Class of 2017 Pinckney Scholars embody an impressive variety of intellectual interests and life experiences,” said author, historian, and Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates. “What unites them, though, is their passion for learning, and the use of education to effect positive social change in their communities. These students are destined for greatness, and I am honored to be part of the committee that has the privilege of selecting them.” 

The class of 2017 Reverend Pinckney Scholars from the local area include:

Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Davontay Dopson, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.
Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Davontay Dopson, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.

• Davontay Dopson, Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School (Newberry College) 

Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Ambriance Lamar, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.
Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Ambriance Lamar, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.

• Ambriance Lamar, Whale Branch Early College High School (Converse College)  

Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Briona Millidge, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.
Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Briona Millidge, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.

• Briona Millidge, Whale Branch Early College High School (Winthrop University)

Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Shawna Wright, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.
Pictured above from left: Bill Lewis, Joe Riley, Shawna Wright, Jennifer Pinckney, Skip Gates, and Josh Steiner.


• Shawna Wright, Whale Branch Early College High School (Winthrop University) 

Scholars are eligible to renew their award each year by maintaining good standing in the program, with an expected total award of $320,000 to the Class of 2017 over their four years of college. 

The program — now in its second year — is supporting 21 students in total with a dollar amount of nearly $160,000 being awarded in the 2017-2018 academic year.

“This program gives promising students an opportunity to attend their first-choice schools,” said Darrin Goss Sr., president and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation. “Feeling a sense of belonging in the place where one studies is a key ingredient to academic, social and civic engagement so this difference is integral to student achievement.” 

Programming for new scholars will begin this summer with an initial orientation session on July 15 covering topics pertaining to the college transition, such as time management and on-campus resources. 

All Pinckney Scholars (Class of 2016 and Class of 2017) will attend a luncheon and professional development session with former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Dr. James A. Joseph. 

Each scholar and a guest will be invited to attend the Coastal Community Foundation’s annual gala celebration that evening where Joseph is scheduled to give the keynote speech. 

About the program

On July 2, 2015, a group of anonymous donors, moved by the tragic murders at Mother Emanuel AME Church and Charleston’s remarkable response to the shooting, created a $3.2 million scholarship fund in honor of the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney. 

In March 2016, Coastal Community Foundation began to administer the scholarship fund and its companion program, the Reverend Pinckney Scholars Program.  

About Coastal Community Foundation 

Coastal Community Foundation empowers individuals, families and organizations to make a lasting impact through permanent, endowed funds for charitable giving. The Foundation serves Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry and Jasper counties. 

To learn more, visit or call 843- 723-3635.

School briefs for June 22nd-28th

in School News/Schools by

Students give back in the Lowcountry

More than 350 students from across the nation have been visiting the Lowcountry to lend their time and talents to helping make life better for elderly, disabled and families in need throughout Beaufort and Jasper Counties. 

The United Way of the Lowcountry coordinated the 18th Annual Catholic HEART Work Camp.  

During the Catholic HEART (Helping Everyone Attain Repairs Today) Work Camp program, the students, along with 100-plus adult leaders and several local volunteers will work together on at least 55 projects throughout the community. Work ranges from yard work and minor repairs to installing handicap ramps.  

In addition to working on residential homes, some of the groups will be working on projects with agencies throughout the community.  

Student volunteers come from all over the country, and were housed at the Hardeeville School Complex. 

“These young people make a big impact in just a few short days by doing simple home repairs including painting, yard work, cleaning, repairing screens and anything else that is difficult for an elderly or handicapped person to accomplish,” said said Bethany Marcinkowski, United Way of the Lowcountry’s vice president of Education Impact. 

“With the impacts of Hurricane Matthew, there is a big need for these types of services and we’re excited to have this wonderful group of kids in our community to help us meet the needs of our neighbors.”

Each of the groups had an adult leader and were assigned to projects throughout Beaufort and Jasper counties.  

“This program’s mission is to revitalize communities and beautify homes of the elderly, the disabled and those who cannot afford needed repairs,” said Marcinkowski. “This falls right in line with United Way of the Lowcountry’s Community Impact agenda, which includes working to meet the basic needs of our neighbors by transforming substandard homes into safe living conditions.”

Operation Backpack needs school supplies 

The United Way of the Lowcountry is currently collecting school supplies and donations as part of Operation Backpack.  

Operation Backpack is an initiative of United Way of the Lowcountry Women United, providing local students in need with backpacks full of school supplies and uniform shirts to start school in the fall.    

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 several schools throughout the Beaufort and Jasper counties.  

Last year, Operation Backpack provided backpacks for more than 465 students.  

The initiative has expanded this year and will serve more than 600 students throughout Beaufort and Jasper counties.   

United Way of the Lowcountry is currently collecting school supplies and monetary donations for Operation Backpack.  

The list of school supplies include:

• Pocket folders (2 pockets)

• Crayola Washable Markers

• #2 pencils (box of 12 count)

• Ruler (12 inch, clear if possible)

• Glue sticks

• Composition notebooks (marble)

• Index cards

• Highlighter (Yellow)

• Hand sanitizer 

• Box of facial tissue

• Crayons (24 count)

• Filler paper

• Zipper-seal quart and gallon bags

• Wet Wipes

• Paper towels

• Gift cards (Old Navy and Walmart)

Monetary donations and gift cards will be used to purchase size-specific uniform shirts and additional school supplies.  

Monetary donations can be made online at or by check.  

Checks should be made out to United Way of the Lowcountry with “Operation Backpack” in the memo.

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

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

• United Way of the Lowcountry Offices in Beaufort at 1277 Ribaut Road

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

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

• YMCA, 1801 Richmond Ave., Port Royal 

• One Blood, 1001 Boundary St., Suite A, Beaufort

 For more information, visit  

Beaufort students graduate from college

The following students are recent graduates:

• Olivia Wingate graduated from Emerson College in Boston with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Studies.

• Walicia Patterson graduated from the University of South Carolina.

Schools briefs for June 15th-21st

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BA hires new director of music program

Vic Varner

Vic Varner has been named the director of the new Vocal Music and Guitar program at Beaufort Academy. 

He is creating the new vocal music program for the school for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. He will be working with Lower, Middle and Upper school students.

Varner grew up in the Park Circle area of North Charleston. His undergraduate degree is in music education from Charleston Southern University and his Master’s of Music Education is from Winthrop University. 

He achieved Kodály Certification from studies at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and studied jazz arranging under artist Phil Mattson at Southwest College in Creston, Iowa.

Varner developed a “solfege” approach for teaching sight reading that has been adopted by numerous music educators in South Carolina.  

He retired from 30 years of high school music education in 2011. His school choirs have performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and have been nationally ranked in competitions from Orlando to Toronto.  

Since “retirement,” Varner has been teaching music courses at USCB and continuing his 40-plus years in church music as director of music at First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort. 

A singer/guitarist, Varner also works as a performer and recording artist at venues throughout the Southeast.  

He has been featured at Hilton Head’s Jazz Corner, Palmetto Bluff’s “Music to Your Mouth” jazz series and Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival.

Varner is returning to high school teaching because he misses creating order out of chaos and developing young people into musicians.  

“The biggest thrill for me is to see the light bulb click over a student’s head the moment he or she understands musical intervals. Simply put … I am a music educator and I love it.” 

Varner has plans to develop a first-class choral program where students are developing individual musicianship with a strong ensemble approach. The school is looking forward to seeing its students perform in major concerts and other community performances.

In time, the guitar students will hopefully emerge as an accompaniment for the singers, but will also be featured as a separate ensemble. 

Enrollment at Beaufort Academy is still open. Call 843-524-3393 or email Admissions Director MJ Simmons at 


Schools announce Dean’s List, grads

The following students were named to Wofford College’s Spring 2017 Dean’s List: Michael Christian Bass and Laura Derenne Roddey, both of Beaufort. 

Tucker Langehans, also of Beaufort, was named to the Dean’s List at Grove City College.

Following are students who graduated from Wofford on May 21: 

• Mary Catherine Carmody received a bachelor of arts degree in English. Carmody is from Beaufort.

• Finn Arnung Koppernaes received a bachelor of arts degree in finance with a minor in economics. Koppernaes is from Beaufort.

• Laura Derenne Roddey received a bachelor of science degree in psychology with a minor in art history. Roddey is from Beaufort.

Summer reading camps provide student support

The South Carolina Department of Education and school districts across the state are gearing up to provide additional support and time on task for struggling third-grade readers through Read to Succeed Summer Reading Camps. 

Reading camps serve students with severe reading difficulties by providing them with the necessary skills to become successful lifelong readers.  

During the summer reading camps, students are taught by highly qualified teachers who have experience working with students with severe reading difficulties to improve their reading, writing and critical thinking skills. 

Students will have the opportunity to receive small group and individual instruction to meet their specific reading needs.  

“Our students deserve every opportunity to strengthen their reading skills to ensure a successful future,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “We encourage all families of third-grade students having severe reading difficulties to contact your district to find out more about the literacy supports that will be provided at summer reading camps.” 

A person’s ability to read is a critical predictor of educational and lifelong success. A strong reading program, like Read to Succeed, beginning in kindergarten and continuing into the third grade and beyond, gives students the best possible chance to maximize their education and lifelong success. 

Beginning in fourth grade, a student must be prepared to comprehend facts in social studies and science, understand word problems in math, and interpret complex materials in language arts.

Results from South Carolina’s statewide assessment, SC READY, show that only 44 percent of third graders met or exceeded standards in English language arts, which includes reading, in 2016. Like other states, South Carolina recognized the need to combat alarming statistical trends that are associated with the inability to read by the end of third grade, including increased drop-out rates and fewer employment opportunities.  

The Read to Succeed Act is a strong initiative that focuses on mastery of reading skills before students advance to fourth grade. The Act requires each district to develop a comprehensive annual reading proficiency plan for Pre-K to 12th-grade students, establishes student reading intervention programs as early as kindergarten and mandates all initially licensed K-12 teachers to complete additional training to receive a Read to Succeed endorsement. 

Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, third-grade students who are not reading on grade level may be retained. Retention can provide students with severe reading difficulties the additional time they need to gain the necessary reading skills to be successful in fourth grade and beyond.  

For additional information on Summer Reading Camps,  visit

School district offers summer lunch program

The Beaufort County School District is offering a Summer Food Service Program to students who are participating in a variety of summer programs across the county. Meals will be provided to all eligible children free of charge.

Acceptance and participation requirements for the program are the same for all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. 

Meals will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis and will be provided at various sites to children who are participating in several summer programs:

Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry (lunches):

• Bridges Club, 1100 Boundary St. in Beaufort, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through July 21.

• Sheldon Club, 21 Agnes Major Road in Sheldon, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. through July 28.

To enroll in the Boys & Girls Club Summer Camps, contact your local Boys & Girls Club office.

St. Helena Migrant Camp (lunches and dinners):

• 1025 Sea Island Parkway on St. Helena Island, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for lunch; 4:30-5:30 p.m. for dinner through July 7

To enroll in the St. Helena Migrant Camp, contact the Migrant Office at 843-838-6868. Enrollees of the Migrant Camp must be students in kindergarten through grade 12, and students’ families must have moved within the last 36 months for the purpose of engaging in agriculture.

Beaufort County YMCA (lunches):

• 1801 Richmond Ave. in Port Royal, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Aug. 16.

School briefs for June 8th-14th

in School News/Schools by

Bridges Preparatory hires Upper School principal

Chris Wilson
Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson has been named as the Upper School principal at Bridges Prep effective July 1.  

As principal for Bridges Prep’s Upper School, Wilson will be the academic leader for grades 8-10 next year and eventually grades 9-12. Bridges Head of School Dr. Nick Ithomitis announced the hiring as school ended at the fast-growing Bridges Prep state charter school. This spring, the SC Public Charter School District named Bridges a “School of Distinction” and one of the top three state charter schools for academics.  

“Chris comes to us with a strong high school teaching background and an excellent academic record,” Ithomitis said of Wilson.  

“One thing that stood out during the interview process was Chris’s continual and steadfast commitment to students. “Folks who know Chris have commented that he will be a ‘perfect fit for Bridges Prep.’ We are excited to have him on board as we expand into a full K-12 school,” Ithomitis said. 

In accepting the position Wilson said, “Bridges Prep is doing so many things right. It’s a wonderful opportunity to grow with the school and bring some of my skills and experiences to help. I am excited by the challenge and humbled by the news that I was selected.” 

Dee Matthews, chair of the Bridges Prep board of directors, said Wilson’s hiring comes at a critical juncture for the rapidly-growing state charter school. 

“As Bridges continues to grow in both enrollment and academic rigor, we needed someone to help with our academic leadership and administration. We are fortunate to have found someone with such a strong background and history of community involvement as Mr. Wilson, and we are excited to have him join our school,” she said. 

Prior to taking the Bridges Prep leadership role, Wilson was band director at Beaufort High School. He is rated as highly qualified in music education, teaching instrumental music. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Southern Illinois University and his Master’s in Educational Administration from McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill. 

Wilson taught for 16 years in Illinois, spending the last 13 years in the Highland School District, where he taught instrumental music, general music and directed the spring musical.  

Over the years, in addition to his teaching duties, he has performed with the Edwardsville Municipal Band, Highland Municipal Band, St. Louis Brass Band, Christ Memorial Lutheran Church Orchestra in St. Louis,  White Bluff Methodist Church in Savannah and the Baptist Church of Beaufort. He has also been a marching percussion instructor for several schools in Illinois over the past 20 years. 

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 843-9827737.  

Local students earn kudos, degrees

Several local students have been named to the dean’s list and/or graduated. They are:

• Lorain Tascoe-Bey, of Beaufort, graduated with a Master’s of Science from Springfield College.

• The following student were named to the spring Dean’s List at Coastal Carolina University: Michael Gompper, Mary Hart, Tyshanna Major, Alexis Mesel, Daniel Mock, Olivia Walker and Victoria Wheelen, all of Beaufort.

School briefs for June 1st-7th

in School News/Schools by
The Etta Mann Non-Traditional Women’s Scholarship is given each May in memory of longtime Beaufort educator Etta Mann to a woman who exemplifies the ideals of AAUW, empowering women who face challenges and overcome them to complete their college degree. This year’s recipient is Sharonica Gavin,who has been working for several years to complete her Health Services degree from USCB, and the Beaufort Chapter of AAUW applauds her effort and tenacity. From left are Dr. Rebecca Cooper, president of AAUW; Dr. Celeste Nawalsky, president-elect; Gavin; and Sarah Jorgensen, scholarship committee. Photo sbmitted by Mary Hope Roseneau, AAUW publicity chair.
The Etta Mann Non-Traditional Women’s Scholarship is given each May in memory of longtime Beaufort educator Etta Mann to a woman who exemplifies the ideals of AAUW, empowering women who face challenges and overcome them to complete their college degree. This year’s recipient is Sharonica Gavin,who has been working for several years to complete her Health Services degree from USCB, and the Beaufort Chapter of AAUW applauds her effort and tenacity. From left are Dr. Rebecca Cooper, president of AAUW; Dr. Celeste Nawalsky, president-elect; Gavin; and Sarah Jorgensen, scholarship committee. Photo sbmitted by Mary Hope Roseneau, AAUW publicity chair.

Whale Branch seniors earn two-year degrees

Six Whale Branch Early College High School seniors picked up their high school diplomas on May 26 having already earned two years of college course credits.

The students took advantage of a partnership with the Technical College of the Lowcountry that allows Whale Branch students to take college courses – and earn two-year associate’s degrees – while still in high school and at no cost to themselves or their parents.  The TCL degree represents a two-year head-start as the students work toward earning a bachelor’s degree or entering the workforce.

The six Whale Branch seniors actually earned “double” TCL associate’s degrees in both Arts and Science.  

They are Thomas Felver, Destiny Hall, Briona Millidge, Liliana Molina, Thomas Vicuna and Judah Wood.

Twelve other Whale Branch seniors graduated with college certificates for completing significant college-level coursework at TCL. They are: Ebony Beasley, Tariq Clark, Kendra Crawford, George Delaney, Jordan Johnson, Kaya Maat, Elisabeth McMillan, Micaela Minter-Ford, Dayvon Polite, Tyleasha Robinson, Evelyn Serrano-Mundo and Shawna Wright.

“Students and their parents are the big winners,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Students can earn four-year college degrees in just two years, so they pay for only two years of tuition.  Earning college credits without having to pay for them is a good deal.”

The joint WBECHS-TCL initiative is completing its sixth year.  While any district student can take college-level courses at TCL, Whale Branch High’s instructional program is built around its TCL partnership.  

Public works plants trees with students

The end of spring break provided a surprise for some Beaufort County students.  

Beaufort County’s Public Works Department, Solid Waste and Recycling Section, received a grant through Keep Beaufort County Beautiful, and partnered with Beaufort County School District staff to identify three schools to receive a fruit tree garden.  

Each garden was planted with a mixture of 11 different varieties of apple and pear trees.

Trees were planted at James J. Davis Early Childhood Center, St. Helena Elementary and Whale Branch Elementary to provide fresh snacks and to help promote healthy food choices. The tree gardens will also add to the students’ environmental studies.

Thirty trees were purchased by Keep Beaufort County Beautiful with funds provided by a Keep America Beautiful/UPS Foundation tree grant.  

The tree vendor, Ty Ty Nursery, was so impressed with the project that it donated an additional 30 trees, allowing for a total of 60 trees to be planted – 20 at each school. Trees were shipped at “fruit-bearing” size in an effort to bring quick results for the students.  The gardens are expected to yield fruit this fall.

The school district provided site preparation. The Beaufort County’s Public Works staff and a volunteer team from Horticulture Management Services enhanced the soils and planted all the trees. Watering will be provided by the students along with school district staff.

Local students graduate college

Local residents graduated from Clemson University at the May 2017 commencement ceremonies.

They are:

• Jameel Mahmoud Abbess IV, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

• Madeline B. Anderson, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Master of Education in Counselor Education.

• Savannah N. Bowman, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies,

• Jean C. Bridgers, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management.

• Michelle Marie Britton, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

• Zachary A. Brown, of Beaufort, who graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Financial Management.

• Katelin Ann Edlin, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

• Hope Yu Jie Keane, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology.

• Luca Clinton Kimbrell, of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education.

•  Adam E. Lipsitz, of Beaufort, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering.

• Elizabeth C. Rhodes , of Beaufort, who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology.

• Grace D. Stewart , of Beaufort, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Language and International Health.

• Frances Carolyn Thorpe , of Beaufort, who graduated with a Master of Public Administration in Public Administration.

More than 3,400 students received degrees at the May 11 and 12 ceremonies.

Promotions, additions at Beaufort Academy

There are several new additions to the Beaufort Academy’s team.

Carol Ann Richards, learning specialist; Lower School curriculum coordinator

Carol Ann Richards
Carol Ann Richards

Carol Ann Richards is Beaufort Academy’s learning specialist as well as its new Lower School curriculum coordinator. She is originally from Hampton, but moved to Beaufort a little over 10 years ago.  

She graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education.  

Richards attended graduate school at Columbia College and received a Master of Education degree in Divergent Learning.  

This is currently her 20th year of teaching. She was a special education resource teacher for 11 years in the public school systems of Hampton, Lexington and Beaufort counties. This is her ninth year as the learning specialist for Beaufort Academy.  Carol Ann’s daughter, Ava, is a rising second grader and has been attending BA since Pre K-3.  Her husband, Scott, is the head football coach for BA.

Kimberly Morris, third-grade teacher

Kimberly Morris
Kimberly Morris

Kimberly Morris was born and raised in Chapin and has been teaching for 10 years. 

She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, and remained at USC for her first graduate degree, a Master of Arts in Teaching, which she earned in 2006. In 2013 she completed her second Masters, an M.Ed. with a focus in Elementary Administration and Supervision from Southern Wesleyan University. 

Morris has several years’ experience as an educational and behavioral consultant, and is children’s/young adult acquisitions editor for Lowcountry Scholars Press. In 2015 she served as a member of the national selection committee for the National Endowment for the Humanities K12 teachers’ institute “America’s Reconstruction: The Untold Story,” and will be assisting with the institute again in the summer of 2017. 

She is married to Dr. J. Brent Morris, who is an author and history professor at USC Beaufort.  They have one son, Daegan, a rising BA second-grader.

Peggy Good, fourth-grade teacher

Peggy Good
Peggy Good

Peggy Good grew up in New Jersey in a home of educators and has spent the past 10 years in New Canaan, Ct., with her two children. 

Her family has spent summers at Fripp Island where Good’s parents reside.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from The Catholic University of America. She has done post graduate work at the Maryland School of Law and is completing her Master’s in Special Education at Fairfield University.  

Her 10-year teaching experience has been in Montclair, N.J., and Stamford, Ct., at the elementary level (six of those years she spent as a fourth grade teacher).

School briefs for May 25th-31st

in School News/Schools by

Exchange students make presentations

Anderson, from Denmark, is shown with Rotary Club of Beaufort President Willie Mack Stansell. Photo provided.
Anderson, from Denmark, is shown with Rotary Club of Beaufort President Willie Mack Stansell. Photo provided.
Struhárová, from the Czech Republic, is shown with Stansell. Photo provided.
Struhárová, from the Czech Republic, is shown with Stansell. Photo provided.

One of the major programs that Rotary Clubs provide is sponsoring area youth exchange programs. This year, two exchange students attended Beaufort-area high schools: Emma Anderson, of Denmark, who attended Beaufort High School, and Karolina Struhárová, of the Czech Republic, who attended Beaufort Academy. Recently, both made presentations to the Rotary Club of Beaufort, summarizing their year in the United States. 

Class of ’87 to hold reunion

Organizers are asking members of the Beaufort High Class of 1987 to save the date for its 30th reunion.

The reunion will take place on Sept. 29-30. Tickets are $75 per person. Further details will be provided as they are announced.

For more information, email

Beaufort students notch achievements

At The Citadel Awards Convocation on May 4, more than 50 awards were presented to cadets in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments. 

Carli Cline, of Beaufort, was awarded The Female Intramural Athlete of the Year this year. Each year the battalion and company athletic officers nominate and select cadets who have shown outstanding performance in intramural competition demonstrating athleticism, sportsmanship and competitive spirit.

In other news, Janelle Vernoy, of Beaufort, has been named to Dean’s List at Bob Jones University.

Principals selected for BCH, Mossy Oaks

The Beaufort County Board of Education recently approved the selections of veteran educators to lead two schools whose principals are retiring.

Whale Branch Middle School Principal Chad Cox will take the top post at Battery Creek High when Ed Burnes retires in June.  

Michelle Sackman, assistant principal for the past five years at Whale Branch Elementary School, will take over at Mossy Oaks Elementary when Principal Donald Gruel retires in June.

Cox began his education career as a Battery Creek High social studies teacher in 2003 and also served as an assistant principal there from 2008-2010.  Prior to becoming principal at Whale Branch Middle in 2015, he held assistant principal positions at Whale Branch Early College High and Robert Smalls International Academy.

Sackman began her career in 2000 and held teaching positions at Broad River Elementary and Coosa Elementary, where she was named as one of five finalists for Beaufort County School District Teacher of the Year in 2005. She also served as a literacy coach at Coosa and at Beaufort Elementary prior to being named assistant principal at Whale Branch Elementary.

A search will now begin to select a new principal at Whale Branch Middle School.

District names 2017 support person of year

A Bluffton High School bilingual liaison was recently named as the Beaufort County School District’s 2017 “Support Person of the Year.”  

The selection of Alexa Mencias was announced at a breakfast recognizing schools’ individual honorees.

Mencias joined the Beaufort County School District 10 years ago after working in the private sector. At Bluffton High, she serves as a liaison between the school and its Hispanic students and families, dealing with a wide range of student and family issues.

Finalists for the Sup port Personnel of the Year included:

• Battery Creek High – Christine Whiteleather, job coach

• Beaufort Elementary – Cathy Power, nurse

• Beaufort High – Julie Gadley, bookkeeper

• Beaufort Middle – Sheral Spencer, media assistant

• Broad River Elementary – Denise Drake, nurse

• Coosa Elementary – Sandra Gardener, administrative associate

• Islands Academy – Andrea Murray, social worker

• Lady’s Island Elementary – Jana Sanders, office manager and bookkeeper

• Lady’s Island Middle – Kathleen Bingham, social worker

• Mossy Oaks Elementary – Webster Ogle, behavior management specialist

• Port Royal Elementary – Elizabeth Bornscheuer, teacher assistant

• River Ridge Academy – Deborah Wilkerson, media assistant

• Robert Smalls International Academy – Toni Burnsed, system support specialist

• Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary – Daryl Harris, behavior management specialist

• St. Helena Elementary – Denise Simmons, behavior management specialist

• Whale Branch Elementary/Davis – Cheryl Morris, media assistant

• Whale Branch Early College High – Virginia Henneberry, office manager

• Whale Branch Middle – Marion Smalls, behavior interventionist

• District Office – Catherine Waskiewicz, technology program manager

• Adult Education – Dorothy Gregory, administrative associate

• Beaufort-Jasper ACE – Maribel Bueso-Welch, bilingual liaison

Vireo Labs creates C’reer Scholarship Fund

Vireo Labs, a career-focused education tech company in Beaufort, has announced two $1,000 scholarships with iFoster to help foster youth around the nation research and finance their postsecondary education.

The scholarships are available to any foster youth enrolled in their senior year of high school in the United States. 

The C’reer iFoster Scholarship will be administered by iFoster and will be awarded to a college-bound student based on an essay submission. These scholarships can be applied to tuition, room and board or other college-related fees or for the purchase of education technology.

The scholarship is named after Vireo Labs’ recently released free mobile app – C’reer – that matches students with careers and connects them with college representatives via chat. Scholarship applicants will be asked to write an essay about the career field suggested by the C’reer app.

C’reer is available for free in the App Store for iOS devices or in Google Play for Android devices.

Each scholarship awarded will be a maximum of $1,000. The application deadline is Sept. 30. Recipients will be notified by Oct. 27.

Full requirements and the application for the C’reer iFoster Scholarship will be announced by iFoster within the next few weeks.


School briefs for May 18th-24th

in School News/Schools by
Ten physical therapy assistant graduates were honored at TCL’s May 11 graduation ceremony. Photo provided.
Ten physical therapy assistant graduates were honored at TCL’s May 11 graduation ceremony. Photo provided.
Thirty-four students recently earned their Associate’s Degrees in Nursing from TCL. Photo provided.
Thirty-four students recently earned their Associate’s Degrees in Nursing from TCL. Photo provided.

TCL holds May 11 pinning ceremony

The Technical College of the Lowcountry honored 34 Associate Degree in Nursing graduates and 10 Physical Therapist Assistant Associate Degree graduates at its May 11 pinning ceremony.

Students experience on-campus learning using high-tech simulation equipment and receive intense additional hands-on practice at clinical sites located throughout Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties. Many students go right to work in the Lowcountry.

The physical therapist assistant graduates are Anastacia Hodgins, Jacqueline Laxton, Jessica Trani, Kyle Keister, Laura Levitt and Tara Northway, all of Beaufort; Ashley Thomas, of Colleton; Catherine Melnick, of Jasper; Kandyce Ranew, of Hampton; and Lauren “Kendall” Starks, of Charleston.

The Associate Degree in Nursing graduates are Kristin Amarino, Karin Arlett, Amy Brodeen, April Buquet, Lindsey Chaplin, Allison Conrad, Jessica Cryer, Tierra Ferrell, Heather Fulkert, Kayla Giffin, Kelly Hughes, Kathryn Lalonde, Jennifer Leggette, Erin Mikulec, Kseniya Ortino, Kyle Phillips, Angela Runyan, Robert Skinner, Thomasina Smalls, Kirsten Smith, Shelby Welch and Kristina Winland, all of Beaufort; Halle Boni, Holly Childers, Tiffany Drake Jasper, Priscilla Keiffer, Kaitlyn McTaggart, Shannon Miller, April Simmons-Smith and Emily Webster, all of Jasper County; Kenyonna Green and Jessica Long, both of Chatham County, Ga.; Rebecca Harrison, of Colleton County;  and Bethany Long, of Effingham County, Ga.

Two new programs airing on district show

Two district initiatives – one focusing on student artists and the other focusing on a special group of student athletes – will highlight the next “Our Schools” television program, which began airing May 12 on the County Channel.

“River of Words” is an annual collection of art and poetry by Beaufort County School District students, and for the first time, this year’s book will be sold to the public online via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.”  

Appearing with Superintendent Jeff Moss to explore “River of Words” will be Project Coordinator Heather Brabham, Robert Smalls International Academy art teacher Dara Ramey and Julianna Vega, a fifth-grader at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts.

The school district has dramatically expanded its partnership with Special Olympics, which coordinates athletic competitions involving student athletes with disabilities.  

Guests appearing with Moss during that segment of the new “Our Schools” will be Gregory McCord, the district’s Chief Auxiliary Services Officer; Herbert Glaze, dean of students at Beaufort High School; and Kathy Cramer, area co-director for Special Olympics.

“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 8:30 p.m. Mondays, 11:30 a.m. Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. Fridays and 11:30 a.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

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

Seniors share experiences on new TV show

Twenty-four seniors preparing to graduate from Beaufort County School District high schools will discuss their experiences and share their opinions during a one-hour television program on the County Channel.

The seniors, selected by their high schools, will answer questions posed by Superintendent Jeff Moss.  

Students include Jonathan Buck, Ahjia Parker, Clarissa Reyes and Clinton Taylor, of Battery Creek High; Christina Adore, John Cherry, Omar Cummings and Mary Claire Sumner, of Beaufort High; and Mayra Garcia, Jazmyn Lovett, Carmin Miller and Eric Saunders of Whale Branch Early College High.

Moss will ask the seniors to share their experiences and opinions, to suggest ways to improve the district’s schools and also to give advice to younger students. 

The show will air on local cable networks: Comcast’s Channel 2, Hargray’s channels 9 and 113, and Spectrum Channel 63.  During the rest of May, the show will air on those channels at 5:30 p.m. Sundays, 8 p.m. Mondays and 11 a.m. Thursdays.

Riverview lottery set for May 30

Riverview Charter School will hold its lottery drawing for 2017-18 enrollment at 5 p.m. in the gym at the school at 81 Savannah Highway in Beaufort.

The lottery is a public meeting and parents are encouraged, but not required, to attend.  

Local college students celebrate graduation 

Following are some updates on local college students:

• James Gray, of Beaufort, has graduated from The Citadel and is among 24 men and women who are now America’s newest military officers serving in the U.S. Air Force.

• Coastal Carolina University held commencement ceremonies for an estimated 1,145 candidates for graduation May 5-6 at the HTC Student Recreation and Convocation Center on campus.

Graduates include James Cato, Abraham Coakley and Olivia Walker, all of Beaufort.

Battery Creek to get aerospace program

Six South Carolina high school students, including those at Battery Creek High School in Beaufort, will have access to aerospace engineering classes beginning in fall.

The aerospace curriculum was formally recommended to the South Carolina Department of Education by SC Aerospace – an industry cluster supported by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and the South Carolina Department of Commerce.  

“Talent development is a top priority for our industry,” said James Stephens, chairman of the SC Aerospace Education Working Group and executive director of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission.  

“This curriculum is a great fit for South Carolina’s aerospace industry in particular because it is multi-disciplinary.  Students learn aerospace engineering principles and written and oral communication skills through presenting their projects to industry representatives.”

The courses are designed to appeal to students who are curious about the design and flight of aircraft and spacecraft vehicles.  

The curriculum consists of four courses: fundamentals of aerospace technology, advanced aerospace technology, aeronautics engineering application and astronautics engineering applications.  

Each school implementing the aerospace curriculum this fall will receive $50,000 from the SC Department of Education to help cover the startup costs involved with the course offerings.

State approves Polaris Tech Charter 

Polaris Tech Charter School is on its way to reality after earning approval from the State Public Charter School District Board during a May 11 hearing in Columbia.

Polaris Tech is a college- and career-focused middle/high school with a unique individualized learning model. Students will have the opportunity to study specific career paths as well as experience the workplace. The school’s ultimate goal is to prepare all students for college, career, and life.  

“This is an amazing step toward helping the young people of Jasper County find new futures,” said retired Gen. Lloyd “Fig” Newton, a member of the Polaris Steering Committee and native son of Jasper County. 

Polaris Tech is scheduled to open in summer 2018 for 160 middle and high school students. Organizers continue to examine facility options across Jasper County and decisions are expected soon.

School briefs for May 4th-10th

in School News/Schools by

Photo above: From left are Pamela Reed, student Payton Blackwell, teacher Sara DeLoach (“Favorite Teacher”) and Ann Paige. Photo provided.

Bridges Prep educator named ‘Favorite Teacher’ 

Bridges Prep’s Sara DeLoach won $100 recently for being selected as the “Favorite Teacher” by Winning Orthodontic Smiles of Beaufort and Bluffton. 

DeLoach, a second-grade teacher, received a $100 gift card to Staples. 

It was the second time a Bridges Prep teacher has received the award in the past three months. Katherine Tapia won in February.   

One of DeLoach’s former students, Payton Blackwell, nominated her teacher for the monthly award. She signed up her teacher when visiting the orthodontic office of Drs. Skeet Burris, Travis Fiegle and Katie Plunkett. 

“It’s a sweet gesture by the kids to nominate their teacher as the ‘Teacher of the Month,’ and it means the world to the teachers,” Bridges Head of School Nick Ithomitis said. “Very few teachers do it for the money. Most do it because they have a gift of teaching and finding ways to connect with young people, and an award like this is a great pat on the back.” 

Visit or call 843-982-7737.  

Beaufort High students host yard sale, car wash

From left are HOSA medal winners Luke Heneise, Nishta Ramasamy, Sarah McMullen, Marah Aulabaugh and Tiffany Camputaro. Not pictured is Olivia Vyge.
From left are HOSA medal winners Luke Heneise, Nishta Ramasamy, Sarah McMullen, Marah Aulabaugh and Tiffany Camputaro. Not pictured is Olivia Vyge.

The Beaufort High School Chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) will host a yard sale and car wash from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6, in the vacant lot beside the Huddle House on Lady’s Island (92 Sea Island Drive).  

The purpose of this event is to raise money for travel expenses for BHS HOSA State Competition winners to travel to compete at the International HOSA conference this summer in Orlando.

State conference winners include: Gold Medal, Luke Heneise, Pharmacology; Gold Medal, Olivia Vyge, Extemporaneous Writing; Silver Medal, Nishta Ramasamy, Extemporaneous Writing; Silver Medal Team, Marah Aulabaugh and Sarah McMullen, Forensic Science; and Bronze Medal, Tiffany Camputaro, Medical Spelling. 

HOSA is an organization for students interested in pursuing a career in health care.  It currently has over 200,000 members throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Public relations group recognizes educators

Several Beaufort County School district educators have earned statewide recognition for their communications efforts from the South Carolina chapter of the National School Public Relations Association.

North of the Broad, the district’s SC/NSPRA award-winning school for 2017 includes Broad River Elementary:  School brochure (Electronics and Publications category).

“Communicating with parents and community members is key to parent and community involvement in schools,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.

The awards were presented recently at an SC/NSPRA luncheon in Columbia.  

SC/NSPRA is a statewide organization of school district communications professionals who advocate for public education and model and share effective communications practices.  

Out-of-state public relations and communications professionals judged this year’s entries.

Local student spends semester abroad

Miami University student Carson Myers spent the winter 2017 semester in Oman and United Arab Emirates as part of a study abroad group.

Myers, from Beaufort, is earning a Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and Global Politics.

Public forum on budget to be held May 4

A public forum will be held from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at the Battery Creek High School’s media center.

The forum is intended to help community members to learn more about the school district budget being developed by the Beaufort County board of education for the 2017-18 school year.

Participants at the forum will receive a presentation on the budget and will also have a chance to make comments to board members and ask questions.

“Developing the school district’s annual budget is a key responsibility for the board, and the process of developing that budget needs to be as open and transparent as possible,” said board Chair Patricia Felton-Montgomery. “We hope parents and community members will learn more about the budget and share their thoughts with us.”

The board hopes to officially certify the district’s 2017-18 budget at its Tuesday, May 16, meeting.  

Beaufort County Council’s current timeline calls for a third and final reading of the district’s budget on Monday, June 12.

Board members surprise district staff, teachers

Some very special Beaufort County School District teachers and support staff were treated with gift baskets recently as board of education members made surprise visits to their schools to announce the 2017-2018 Teachers of the Year and Support Staff of the Year.

School Teachers of the Year are selected by their peers according to criteria established by the schools, the South Carolina Department of Education and the district’s Teacher Forum.  

Next fall, the teachers honored will be eligible for District Teacher of the Year honors.

Support staff also are selected by school staff and can include social workers, school nurses, bookkeepers, office managers, teacher assistants, school secretaries and technology and data specialists.  

The 2017-2018 North of the Broad Beaufort County Teachers of the Year and Support Staff of the Year are Battery Creek teacher Sarah Hayes, support staff, Christine Whiteleather; Beaufort Elementary teacher Meredith Rhoden, support staff, Cathy Power; Beaufort High teacher Nancy Ungvarsky, support staff, Julie Gadley; Beaufort Middle teacher Dayna Dehlinger, support staff Sheral Spencer; Broad River teacher Phelecia Simmons, support staff, Denise Drake; Coosa Elementary teacher Lauren Plain, support staff, Sandra Gardener; Shanklin Elementary teacher Daniel McKeown, support staff, Daryl Harris; Lady’s Island Elementary teacher Cheryl Horton, support staff, Jana Sanders; Islands Academy teacher Patricia Hillis, support staff, Andrea Murray; Lady’s Island Middle teacher Andrew Diamond, support staff, Kathleen Bingham; River Ridge Academy teacher Amie Lankowski, support staff, Deborah Wilkerson; Robert Smalls International Academy teacher Leanna O’Quinn, support staff, Toni Burnsed; St. Helena Elementary teacher Merriam Browne, support staff, Denise Simmons; Whale Branch Early College High teacher Elizabeth Thomas, support staff, Virginia Henneberry; Whale Branch Elementary teacher Nicole Townsend, support staff, Cheryl Morris; Whale Branch Middle teacher Denise Huntsman, support staff, Marion Smalls; and Port Royal Elementary teacher Melinda Joiner, support staff, Elizabeth Bornscheuer.

New administrator named at First Books

Diane Peeples has been named the new administrator at First Books of Beaufort effective Thursday, June 1.

First Books of Beaufort holds storytimes throughout Beaufort County and gives 800 books to at risk 4-year-olds and their classrooms each month. Peeples has been a volunteer reader for two years, and is a lifelong resident of the Beaufort area. She is a licensed insurance agent who has worked at Turbeville Insurance Agency as an accounts manager for the past 10 years. 

First Book’s area leaders are: Peggy Cass Scott, Beaufort; Laurie Haddock, Bluffton; and Lara Phillips, Hilton Head. 

Major sponsors are Coastal Community Foundation’s Beaufort Fund and Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.  


School briefs for April 27th-May 3rd

in School News/Schools by

Wheelan to deliver keynote at graduation

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan
Dr. Belle S. Wheelan

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, the first woman and first African-American president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, will deliver the keynote address at its 2017 commencement exercises at 6 p.m. Friday, April 28, on the Hilton Head Gateway Campus.  

Wheelan’s career in education spans more than 40 years and includes roles as college president and secretary of education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She was appointed by Virginia’s newly elected governor in 2001 to be secretary of education in his administration. 

She spent three and a half years in the position, handling a variety of education-related issues, before being named to lead the regional organization that accredits nearly 800 educational organizations throughout the South in 2005. She holds that post today.

In 2001, Wheelan was named one of Washington Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington D.C. In 2002, she received the Woman of Distinction Award presented by the American Association of University Women. In 2015, she earned the Dr. John Hope Franklin Award from Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.  

USCB will graduate 398 members of the Class of 2017. This is the largest graduating class in USCB’s history. Visit 

District finance staff earns national awards

Finance staffers from the Beaufort County School District have earned a pair of national awards for excellence from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

The first award, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, recognized the school district’s 2016 annual financial report.  

It was the 27th consecutive year that the school district had earned the national recognition. 

GFOA said the award honors financial reports that demonstrate a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” and that clearly communicate a school district’s financial story and motivate citizens to read the annual report.  It said the award represents “the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.”

The second recognition, the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, honors government budgets that succeed simultaneously as policy documents, financial plans, operations guides and communications devices.  Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in all four of those categories – along with the 14 criteria in each one – to receive the award.

Superintendent Jeff Moss credited members of the finance staff for their “superlative efforts,” including Chief Finance and Operations Officer Tonya Crosby; Director of Internal Controls Reggie Murphy; Director of Finance Lori Mock; and Budget Analyst Louis Ackerman.  Moss also congratulated Phyllis White, who retired in December as the district’s chief finance and operations officer.

The school district’s bond ratings are Aa1 with Moody’s Investors Service and AA with Standard and Poor’s.   

BHS recognized as model program

The American School Counselor Association has announced that Beaufort High School is now a recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) school. 

The RAMP designation is awarded to schools that align with the criteria in the ASCA National Model and are committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment. 

“It has been a comprehensive effort that required a high level of participation on the part of every counselor in our department,” said Beaufort High counselor, Michelle Dixon. “Our work is purposeful and important. We truly believe our students are different because of what we do. It has been an extraordinary journey for our department.” 

Since the RAMP program’s inception, more than 700 schools have earned the designation. 

Beaufort High will be honored at a recognition ceremony at ASCA’s annual conference in Colorado in July.

Contract negations underway for Whale Branch gym

The Beaufort County board of education recently voted to proceed with contract negotiations with an architectural firm to design a competition gymnasium and performing arts center for Whale Branch Early College High School.

McMillan, Pazdan Smith Architecture – with offices in Greenville, Spartanburg, Charleston, Asheville, Charlotte and Atlanta – emerged as the top choice at the end of a multilayered selection process.  The firm has designed school facilities for 29 South Carolina districts, and school design comprises 65 percent of its work.

McMillan Pazdan Smith has been named among the nation’s top firms by Architect Magazine and has earned recognitions from the Council of Education Facility Planners in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011-2015.

The Beaufort County board of education voted Feb. 7 to build the competition gymnasium at Whale Branch Early College High and voted March 21 to build the school a performing arts center.  

Whale Branch is currently the only district high school that does not have a performing arts-style auditorium for student performances and classes, and is also the only district high school that doesn’t have a larger competition gym.  

Parents and community supporters had urged the district to build both a performing arts center and a competition gymnasium since the high school opened in 2010.

Local students are recognized

Shandy Simpson, of Beaufort, has been named to the Provost’s List at Troy University for Term 3 of the 2016/2017 academic year.

The Provost’s List honors full-time undergraduate students who are registered for at least 12 semester hours and who have a grade point average of at least 3.65.

At The Citadel, two local students were honored at the 2017 Joint ROTC Awards. They are Nicolas Cucinotta, of Port Royal; and Adam Hannah, of Beaufort.

School briefs for April 13th-19th

in School News/Schools by

New head of school at Beaufort Academy

Dr. Daniel Durbin
Dr. Daniel Durbin

Dr. Daniel Durbin has been appointed the next Head of School for Beaufort Academy.  

This appointment concludes an extensive national and international search process launched by a qualified Head of School Search Committee to identify a successor for outgoing Headmaster Stephen Schools.   

The search included over 70 applicants and was narrowed to three contenders in three states.   

Durbin, presently the director of Youth and Family Ministries at Sea Island Presbyterian Church, will begin his tenure at Beaufort Academy on Monday, April 17.  

He will work in conjunction with outgoing headmaster for the remainder of the school year. 

According to Chilton Grace Simmons, president of the board of trustees of Beaufort Academy, “Since we began the search and asked for input from faculty, staff, parents and the community, Dr. Durbin’s name has continuously been brought to us by people both inside and outside of BA.  Many of those voices were those of teachers.    

“He has an extremely dynamic and comprehensive knowledge of education, and is beloved by teachers and students alike. Importantly, he also knows the Beaufort community well, including being active in Sea Island Rotary, Sea Island Presbyterian Church, and American Legion. BA is thrilled to embark upon its future under Dr. Durbin’s proven leadership and passion for education.”

Local sorority attends leadership event

Members of Mu Pi Zeta with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s International president, from left, are Kimberly Bush, event photographer; Tina Johnson, executive board chair; Dr. Mary Breaux Wright, international president; Shai Tyson, escort to president; Ruth Naomi James and assistant secretary. Photo provided.
Members of Mu Pi Zeta with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s International president, from left, are Kimberly Bush, event photographer; Tina Johnson, executive board chair; Dr. Mary Breaux Wright, international president; Shai Tyson, escort to president; Ruth Naomi James and assistant secretary. Photo provided.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority held its South Carolina Leadership Conference in Myrtle Beach March 31 and April 1.  

Mu Pi Zeta, Beaufort County graduate chapter, Tau Upsilon, undergraduates at University of South Carolina Beaufort and Zeta Amicae Auxiliary of Beaufort were recognized at the conference in the presence of the sorority’s international president, Dr. Mary Breaux Wright.  

Mu Pi Zeta was awarded Lowcountry 2 Model Chapter of the Year for 2017. This is the second consecutive win for the graduate chapter.  

Chaqueria Vereen, a junior at USCB and member of Tau Upsilon, was one of the Top 10 honorees for highest grade point average of all undergraduate members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in the state.  

First place for March of Dimes donations and Z-HOPE (Zetas Helping Other People Excel) was awarded to Zeta Amicae Auxiliary of Beaufort.

In addition to chapter recognition, two members were installed as state officers. The local president, Tina Johnson, is the executive board chair, and the undergraduate advisor, Ruth Naomi James, is the assistant secretary.  

Marlena Smalls, honorary member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, provided musical entertainment for the opening ceremony.

Simultaneously in Columbia, Briona Millidge, a youth participant for the sorority, received the Richard W. Riley Award on April 1 from South Carolina Education Association. Bernadette Hampton, SCEA president and member of Mu Pi Zeta, presented the award at SCEA’s awards luncheon.

A scholarship fundraiser will be held 7 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at the USCB Center for Performing Arts featuring classical musicians Time for 2, Kearston and Kendall Gonzales. Proceeds will benefit graduating seniors.  

The cost is $30 per adult and $15 per youth.

Art, science merge in ‘River of Words’

The complex ecology and peaceful beauty of Port Royal Sound serves as the inspiration for a new collection of art and poetry by Beaufort County School District students.

“River of Words:  Musings on Port Royal Sound through Poetry and Art 2017,” was unveiled at a reception recently at the Port Royal Maritime Center. The annual student publication is the culmination of an interdisciplinary learning experience about the sound’s watersheds.

“We live in an extraordinary landscape,” said Heather Brabham, the project’s coordinator. “ ‘River of Words’ lets teachers and students become an active part of that environment, learn from it and be inspired by it. The creativity of our students is really amazing.”

Brabham said that first- through 12th-grade students from 17 district schools accepted the “River of Words” challenge last fall to extend learning beyond their classroom walls and into neighboring marshes, beaches and maritime forests.  

Science, English language arts, math, gifted and talented and visual arts teachers joined forces to design interdisciplinary units of study that examined local watersheds from multiple perspectives.

Students and teachers equipped with binoculars, cameras and sketchbooks experienced first-hand the intricate ecology of Port Royal Sound.  

They tested water quality, studied stormwater run-off and discussed the effects of pollution and population growth. They kayaked in area rivers, embarked on virtual field trips, toured the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center and explored the Lowcountry’s natural history and cultural heritage at Coastal Discovery Museum. 

Brabham said that while students observed, measured, tested, researched and documented, they also heightened their senses and attuned them to the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world. Following their scientific discoveries, students were charged to transform their new knowledge into poems and art.  “River of Words” was the result.

Now in its seventh year, “River of Words” enables students to use humor and haiku, free verse, figurative language, vivid vocabularies and heartfelt advocacy along with paint, pencil and digital images to demonstrate their understanding of Port Royal Sound and to make their voices heard.

This year’s cover art, a painting of a pelican, was created by fifth-grader Julianna Vega from Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts.

Participating schools this year were: Battery Creek High, Beaufort Middle, Bluffton Middle, Hilton Head Island Elementary, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts, H.E. McCracken Middle, Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary, Mossy Oaks Elementary, May River High, Okatie Elementary, Pritchardville Elementary, Red Cedar Elementary, Riverview Charter, River Ridge Academy, Robert Smalls International Academy, Michael C. Riley Elementary and Whale Branch Middle. 

“River of Words” can be purchased online for $15 by visiting or and typing “River of Words” into the search engine.

Students attend scholarship event

As the end of another school year is fast approaching so do the deadlines for graduating seniors to apply for scholarships and grants. 

In Beaufort, the Greek letter organizations and several stakeholder groups collaborated to form the LowCountry Scholarship Group. 

The scholarship chairs of each granting organizations and the groups that reach out/mentor youth made up the organization.

The mission of the LowCountry Scholarship Group was to come together to develop a scholarship program that reaches out to the community, making eligible students aware of the opportunities that abound in Beaufort county that few are taking advantage of.

Each of the scholarship granting organizations was asked to submit a digital version of their scholarship application packages. When it was all said and done, over 45 scholarship applications and over 75 links to other educational opportunities were given to each student on a personal thumb drive. Also each student was given a folder with vital financial aid information.

The scholarship workshop was held on March 4 at Whale Branch Early College High School. There was a registration of over 58 students and parents representing 22 high schools, four counties and Georgia. 

Day of Learning coming to TCL

The Technical College of the Lowcountry is hosting A Day of Learning and Conversation from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, April 21, at its Beaufort campus. 

Faculty, staff and community members will lead a series of conversations in the humanities such as in art, history, culture and literature. 

The program is free and includes three hour-long sessions followed by lunch with TCL faculty, community partners and leadership. Reservations are required and space is limited. 

To register, visit or contact Jessica Bridges, assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement, at 843 525-8294 or

Public invited to college fair at TCL

The Technical College of the Lowcountry will host a college fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, April 13, in the MacLean Hall Student Center at the Beaufort Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

 TCL and four-year colleges and universities from around the state and beyond will provide enrollment and transfer information. 

For more information, contact Melanie Gallion, TCL Career and Transfer Services manager, at 843-525-8224 or

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