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School board, local activists go on attack

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By Sally Mahan

A string of toxic emails between board of education members over comments made by the chairman that critics of the board will “die and go to hell” also revealed that one had told another that she hoped “she would die or fall off a cliff.”

The exchange started when local activist and former school board member Jim Bequette emailed members of the media and school board members that Beaufort County School District board of education Chairman Earl Campbell, who represents District 1 in Northern Beaufort County, should resign from his post on the board.

At an Oct. 3 board meeting, Campbell, who has served on the board for more than 20 years, said, “Sometimes people get their blood pressure up staying negative, but you will die and go to hell and these kids will still be here and some of us will still be here.” 

He appeared to be targeting Citizens Advocating Responsible Education (CARE), a group of local activists who have been critical of the board and the district administration. 

“I let my statement stand,” said Campbell. “I am a school board member and represent District 1, but I also represent every student in this county. People only want to talk about the negative and I can’t just sit back and let that happen.

“We have good teachers, good students and good staff and the negativity affects some of our employees. 

“It’s kind of funny that people want to criticize but can’t take criticism. We have a lot of good things going on in our district,” said Campbell

CARE members have said the board is dysfunctional and that Superintendent Jeffrey Moss should step down from his post due to ethics issues, including a past incident of nepotism. 

Moss received his annual evaluation on Oct. 9 and was given a “satisfactory” grade in a 6-4 vote by the board.

After Bequette sent his email on Oct. 9, in which he said, “If (Campbell’s) statement was sent or made publicly, he should resign immediately,” a chain reaction of back-and-forth emails among local activists and board members got underway.

JoAnn Orischak, who represents District 11 on Hilton Head Island, responded to Bequette, saying, “And I thought my public comments raised eyebrows. …”

Evva Anderson, who represents District 6 in the southwest Beaufort County, took offense, writing back to Orischak, saying, “You are quick to criticize … yet you sit by and allow your friend (Richard) Bisi (a member of CARE) to curse in our meetings and say nothing. That says volumes.”

Orischak wrote back, “Just a little humor, Evva. Trying to lighten the mood a bit. … As a reminder, our board policy does not permit board members to directly respond to, or have exchanges with, speakers during public comment. No matter how spirited a commenter may be, I try to follow this rule; however, there have been many times when I would have liked to respond. …

“While we are at it, and what is even more disconcerting than the use of the ‘Hell’ word, is that YOU were overheard saying that you’d wish I would ‘die or fall off a cliff.’ It’s one thing to think this, but it’s quite another to utter it aloud.

“One might consider this a threat to one’s personal safety. But I’ll bet you were just interjecting a bit of humor,” Orischak wrote.

Meanwhile, activists and CARE members were not amused.

Bisi wrote, “You have a lot of nerve Ms. Anderson. In the last two years, I have attended 39 school board meetings and have spoken 35 times in those meetings. One time, when I was so frustrated over the audit debate, did I say, ‘What the hell is going on?’ ” Bisi wrote.

“Your reply was that ‘children might be watching’ and your friend, Bill Payne, muttered under his breath but was picked up by the microphone, ‘That was vulgar.’ 

“And yet the school board chair can dismiss ALL of the district critics by telling them ‘they will die and go to hell.’ Are you kidding me?

“Mr. Campbell should resign his chairmanship and should resign his seat on the board,” Bisi wrote. “His remarks are simply outrageous and unbecoming that of a school board chair.”

Board member Anderson did not respond to a request for comment on her exchange with Orischak or Bisi’s charges.

Board member Orischak did respond to a request for comment by saying, “Mr. Campbell is a good man; so obviously, I am disappointed in his comments to community members. 

“It’s not the profanity that disturbs me (if you can label ‘Hell’ profanity), it’s the intent and spirit of the statement that is problematic, particularly for a board chairman. I would not be surprised if Mr. Campbell apologized on his own without any board intervention.”

As far as Anderson’s comments about falling off a cliff and dying, Orischak said, “You can verify Mrs. Anderson’s comments with board members and others who overheard. As a side note, Mrs. Anderson continues to show up at my meetings with constituents, which is concerning given her comments toward me.”  

Meanwhile, other activists are calling for the head of Campbell.

Activist Geri Smith said, “Please add me to the list of citizens requesting you (Campbell) resign, not only from the chair, but as board representative for District 1 as well. In my opinion, while under your leadership the board continues to bring shame, embarrassment and ridicule upon the board of education and the school district. I find your content of
character lacking.”

Board member David Striebinger, who represents District 2 in northeast Beaufort County, was dismayed by the emails.

“I suggest we stop these ‘fanning the flames’ email exchanges,” he said. “They serve no useful purpose. These emails display how deep the problems on the board run … at a personal level. 

“What started with inappropriate comments by the chair has expanded to acrimonious exchanges between other board members,” said Striebinger. “This is not problem solving. A simple apology by the chair would close the issue out, but these exchanges do the opposite … they broaden the issue.”

School board election

Former Beaufort County School District board of education member Patricia Felton-Montgomery was elected to represent portions of Bluffton in November 2016 and was subsequently named chair of the board. However, she resigned in June.

A special election will be held Tuesday, Oct. 17, to fill her seat. Only voters in that district can cast a ballot. The candidates are John Dowling and Susan Gordon.

School briefs for October 12th-18th

in School News/Schools by

State of the Schools to be held Nov. 1

The Beaufort Regional Chamber has rescheduled its annual State of the School event due to Tropical Storm Irma.

It will be held from 8-9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at Holiday Inn & Suites, 2225 Boundary St.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and the leaders from the area school systems will share information concerning education in Beaufort County and the impact on our community.

Speakers will include Spearman, Dr. Jeffrey Moss of the Beaufort County School District; Dr. Richard Gough, Technical College of the Lowcountry; and Dr. Al Panu, University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Guests will also hear from a panel of leaders representing the area’s private and charter schools including: Beaufort Academy, Bridge Preparatory School, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, John Paul II High School, Lowcountry Montessori School, Riverview Charter School and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

The cost is $20 for chamber members; $25 for nonmembers; and $160 for a table of eight.

Contact LaNelle at LaNelle@BeaufortSC.org.

Bridges educator is Teacher of the Month

Grace Converse is shown here with Mark Robertson and Brain Balance reps. Photo provided.
Grace Converse is shown here with Mark Robertson and Brain Balance reps. Photo provided.

It was a day to remember for Bridges Prep kindergarten teacher Grace Converse. WYKX 98.7 The River radio station and Bluffton’s Brain Balance surprised her and her students in their classroom recently to award her their first-ever Teacher of the Month.

Her winnings included an Amazon Echo, a gift card for school supplies and lunch for the entire class.

“It was an amazing surprise, and to have my kids be part of it in the classroom was so fun,” Converse said.

Converse was among the first teachers hired at Bridges Prep when the school opened in 2013. She was named the school’s Teacher of the Year for 2015-2016. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Erskine College with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and earned her master’s degree in education with an emphasis on literacy from the University of West Georgia.

Prior to joining Bridges Prep, Converse taught at Sias International University and as a second-grade teacher. Interestingly, she is married to Ashton Converse, who was Teacher of the Year for 2016-2017 at Bridges Prep.

“Grace is an amazing teacher who creates such a connection to our youngest learners,” said Dee Matthews, chair of the Bridges Prep board of directors and a longtime educator herself. “Grace is pretty much the ideal for a kindergarten teacher in my mind, and we are proud and privileged to have her with us at Bridges Prep.”

WYKZ radio personality Mark Robertson presented the award along with a bundle of balloons in Converse’s kindergarten class. She was the initial winner in a three-month recognition of local teachers sponsored by the radio station and Brain Balance Achievement Center in Bluffton.

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

Department of Ed releases test results

The South Carolina Department of Education has released the results of 2017 statewide assessments for SC READY, SC PASS and End-of-Course assessments.

SC READY assessments in English language arts and mathematics are designed to measure progress of students in grades 3-8 toward South Carolina’s new, more rigorous academic standards and higher expectations.  

SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said last year that adopting rigorous standards and accompanying assessments would require an adjustment by students, parents and teachers as educators and students transition to a more challenging academic environment.

In 2017, Beaufort County students outperformed the state in all grades in mathematics and in three of six grades in English language arts.  

South Carolina made scoring changes to the SC Ready scale in 2017, so comparisons between the two years are being done cautiously.  For example, a fourth grade student in 2016 on the English language arts assessment that scored in the 25th percentile was “Approaches Expectations.”  

A similar student in 2017, fourth-grade scoring in the 25th percentile on the English language arts assessment, is “Does Not Meet Expectations”.

In SC READY English language arts:

• Grade 3: 41 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 42.1 statewide. An additional 32.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 4: 42 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 40.9 statewide. An additional 30.1 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 5: 42.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 38.3 statewide.  An additional 31.5 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 6: 42.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 39.7 statewide.  An additional 35.1 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 7: 35.1 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 36.4 statewide.  An additional 34.6 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 8: 38.8 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 40.1 statewide.  An additional 32.6 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

In SC READY mathematics:

• Grade 3: 55.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 52.5 statewide. An additional 23.5 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 4: 52.1 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 46.4 statewide. An additional 27.6 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 5: 44.1 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 40.0 statewide. An additional 30.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 6: 43 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 41.5 statewide. An additional 33.3 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 7: 36.2 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 33.3 statewide. An additional 35.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 8: 37.3 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 34.5 statewide. An additional 33.7 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

SC PASS results for 2017

South Carolina students in grades 4-8 have taken SC PASS assessments in science and social studies since 2009.  Science scores were converted to SC READY performance levels in 2017, making social studies the only assessment comparable across multiple administrations.

In SC PASS science:

• Grade 4: 47.4 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 48.4 statewide. An additional 28.9 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 5: 43.8 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 46.1 statewide. An additional 23.2 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 6: 45.9 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 48.0 statewide. An additional 23.0 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 7: 44.5 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 46.5 statewide. An additional 23.4 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

• Grade 8: 49.9 percent met or exceeded state standards compared to 49.5 statewide. An additional 22.8 percent of district students “approached” meeting state standards.

Beaufort County students’ performance on SC PASS social studies exams improved in one of the five grade levels tested and improved relative to statewide averages in three of five grade levels tested:

• Grade 4: 81.1 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 80.9 last year (80.8 percent statewide).

• Grade 5: 64.8 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 71.9 last year (70.9 statewide).

• Grade 6: 75.1 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 75.1 last year (73.3 percent statewide).

• Grade 7: 58.4 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 70.4 last year (63.5 statewide).

• Grade 8: 64 percent met or exceeded state benchmarks in 2017 compared to 65.1 last year (67.7 percent statewide).

Looking at five-year trend data for SC PASS social studies, Beaufort County and statewide scores have decreased in all
grades tested.

End-of-course exams

For the first time Beaufort’s percent of students passing EOCEP exams surpassed the state in all four subject areas.

For the 2016-2017 school year, two major changes affected EOCEP results:  

• South Carolina adopted a new 10-point grading scale that impacts the scores of all four subject areas tested.

• Algebra I and English I scoring was rescaled to match the rigor of SC College & Career Ready Standards. Rescaled scoring contributed at least partially to fewer students passing the Algebra I exam and more students passing the English I assessment.

Due to these changes, the 2016-2017 EOCEP mean score and percent passing results in Algebra I and English I can’t be compared to results from prior years.

South Carolina students’ scores on end-of-course exams count for 20 percent of final grades in Algebra 1, English 1, Biology and U.S. History and Constitution. 

• Algebra I: The percentage passing was 77.5 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 74.7).

• English I: The percentage passing was 81.4 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 76.8).

• Biology: The percentage passing increased from 79.8 in 2016 to 80.9 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 73.7).

• U.S. History and Constitution: The percentage passing improved from 73.3 in 2016 to 73.4 in 2017 (state passing percentage was 67.8).

“Our students and our progress is more than one data point in time and should be reflective of the work we are doing in our district working with our community and teachers in preparing graduates to be successful after graduation,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. 

Reading, arts focus on district TV show 

Reading and the arts are being featured in the Beaufort County School District’s “Our Schools” television program, which is airing on the County Channel.

About 1,500 students benefited from additional teacher-led assistance through the district’s Summer Reading Program, which will be the focus of the show’s first segment.  

In the second segment, three principals will discuss their schools’ arts-focused instruction and their recent grant awards from the South Carolina Arts Commission.  Six district schools – the second-highest number in the state – earned 2017 Arts in Basic Curriculum grants.

Appearing with Superintendent Jeffrey Moss on the new edition of “Our Schools” will be Carmen Dillard, director of Elementary Education; Melissa Murray, English Language Arts coordinator; Taylor McGillis, a teacher at Hilton Head Island Elementary; Carole Ingram, principal at Beaufort Middle School; Gretchen Keefner, principal at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts; and Marvelle Ulmer, principal at Lady’s Island Elementary School.

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

“Our Schools” airs 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 www.bcgov.net/departments/Community-Services/county-channel/index.php.

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

Redemption will be topic of seminars

Dr. Janice B. Brown, a retired professor of English and author of “The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers,” will deliver a three-part seminar series entitled, “The Mystery of Redemption,” while serving as a visiting teacher of literature at Holy Trinity Classical Christian School in October and November. The lecture series is free and open to the public.

Brown, a finalist for the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for her book on Sayers published the previous year, will present the first lecture in the series at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at the school at 302 Burroughs Ave.

The initial lecture, “The Mystery of Evil: The Whodunit and the Gospel,” encompasses the depiction of sin in Sayers’ fiction, and the spiritual significance of detective stories. 

The second lecture, “The Mystery of Suffering: World War II and the Redemptive Function of Suffering,” is Sayers’s war-time writing. It applies the pattern of the cross to the pattern of the times. It will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2.  

The last lecture in the series, “The Mystery of Redemption: Choosing to be the Chosen of God,” looks at the necessity of preaching of Christ crucified and the way God’s initiative in conversion is depicted in three of Sayers’ ecclesiastical plays. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9.

Brown was professor of English at Grove City College in Pennsylvania from 1994 to 2015. She earned two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree and a doctorate at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Located in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Memorial University is one of the top comprehensive universities in Canada and the largest university in Atlantic Canada. 

The highlight of her career, Brown says, was the six-and-a-half-year period she spent teaching high school English at Ukarumpa High School in Papua New Guinea. It is a school for the children of missionaries operated by Wycliffe Bible Translators. From 1986 to 1991, she served as an adjunct lecturer in English Language and Literature at Memorial University.

Her book, “The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers,” explores the world of the artist who worked in many genres and addressed many issues. 

In 2018 Kent State University Press will publish Brown’s second book, “The Lion in the Waste Land: Fearsome Redemption in the Work of C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and T.S. Eliot.” Kent State University Press published her first book in 1998.

BA gets new director of financial services

Virginia Henneberry
Virginia Henneberry

Virginia Henneberry has been named the new director of Financial Services at Beaufort Academy.

She has worked in education for nearly 14 years – both in K-12, and higher education, in areas ranging from alumni retention to athletics, facilities management and procurement. 

She has spent the last nine years in administration and operational support roles for the Beaufort County School district, most recently as office manager for Whale Branch Early College High School.

As the daughter of an educator, she developed an early appreciation for school as a community, and the important role each teacher, staff member and administrator play in the education and well being of their students. 

Originally from Macon, Ga., Henneberry has been part of the Beaufort community since June 2007. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, riding bikes, and playing in the yard with her daughters and dogs (and a cat who thinks she is a dog). She also enjoys relaxing in the mountains, traveling and singing.

Holy Trinity raises funds for sister school

Holy Trinity Classical Christian School students and their families have been fundraising in support of the school’s “Join the Journey” fall fundraiser.

In Biblical tradition, Holy Trinity will be tithing 10 percent of proceeds raised to their sister school in South Sudan, Good Shepherd Academy (GSA). GSA’s headmaster, Rev. John Chol Dauu, will be arriving from South Sudan and joining in Holy Trinity’s celebration and Prayer Walk. 

The walk will be held from 9-10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the school at 302 Burroughs Ave. in Beaufort.

School briefs for October 5th-11th

in School News/Schools by
robotics

Photo above: Beaufort Academy’s robotics team attended workshops that accompanied the release of the 2017-2018 FIRST Tech Challenge game recently at the Military Magnet School in North Charleston. The rookie team, made up of students in grades 7-12, was able to elevate a marshmallow 19.5 inches on a stable platform made from string, spaghetti and tape in a timed team-building exercise. Photo provided.

Make-up dates have been changed

Because of student testing at several schools on Saturday, Dec. 9, that cannot be rescheduled, the previously scheduled weather make-up day for all students is being moved back one week to Saturday, Dec. 16.  

This means that the Beaufort County School District’s two weather make-up days related to Tropical Storm Irma will now be Saturday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Dec. 16.

AP students earn free college credits

More than half of Beaufort County School District students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses in 2016-17 scored high enough on their final exams to earn free college credits, the College Board reported recently. 

Advanced Placement – and the accompanying College Board exams that demonstrate mastery of the course material – let students earn free college course credits while still in high school.  

Last school year, 54 percent of Beaufort County School District students taking AP exams scored 3 or better on the tests’ 5-point scale, qualifying them for college credit.  

That was down slightly from the previous year’s 55 percent, which was the district’s all-time high, but up significantly from 48 percent five years ago.

Across the district, 525 individual students scored high enough to earn college credits compared to 538 last year and 537 five years ago.  

The total number of exams taken was 1,480, up from 1,374 last year and down from 1,707 five years ago.

Superintendent Jeff Moss said that fewer students are taking AP courses because more are taking advantage of “dual enrollment” courses that also allow them to earn college credits while still in high school through partnerships with colleges and universities.

“Either way you look at it – whether it’s dual enrollment or AP courses – our students are setting higher standards for themselves, and that’s certainly encouraging,” Moss said.

Among Northern Beaufort County public high schools over the past five years:

• Battery Creek High: Thirty-one percent of students taking AP exams scored high enough for college credit in 2016-17, down from 43 percent the previous year and up from 13 percent five years ago.

• Beaufort High: Fifty-two percent scored high enough for college credit in 2017, compared to 49 percent the previous year and 55 percent five years ago.

• Whale Branch Early College High offers college courses through its partnership with the Technical College of the Lowcountry rather than offering AP courses through the College Board.

Students with autism to benefit from robots

Fifteen school districts across South Carolina, including Beaufort County, will implement the Milo robot and Robots4Autism curriculum beginning this October.

“I am excited about the opportunities that Milo and Robots4Autism curriculum bring to our students with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” said State Superintendent Molly Spearman.

“Through the use of this state-of-the art technology, we can provide intense support to the academic and social behavioral needs of a growing population of students in our state.”

Since 2011, the number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in South Carolina has nearly doubled from 4,000 to over 8,000 students in 2017. Recognizing the need to provide an evidence-based curriculum for students with ASD and the need to support educators, the Office of Special Education Services invested in Milo and through the use of federal funds will pilot the humanoid robot and curriculum in 15 districts for a three-year period.

Developed by RoboKind, a company based in Dallas, Milo teaches elementary and middle school students the understanding and meaning of emotions and expressions, and demonstrates appropriate social behavior and responses. 

Through interactions with Milo, students learn to tune in on emotions, express empathy, act more appropriately in social situations, self-motivate and generalize in the population.

Each robot can assist up to 15 individual students with ASD by providing a minimum of 60 minutes weekly of special education services related to behavior, pragmatic speech or social/emotional learning.

Information sessions set for Polaris Tech charter

Eight community and parent information sessions are set across Jasper County over the next six weeks to share details and how to apply to the Lowcountry’s newest state charter school, Polaris Tech.

The public sessions typically last about an hour and include an overview of the school, what makes it different, and how to apply starting in January.

Polaris Tech is scheduled to open in August 2018 as a free public charter school for up to 250 middle and high school students. As a state charter school, the Polaris Tech board of directors will be responsible for meeting state guidelines and accountability measures.

Most meetings have Spanish translation. 

Visit www.polaristech.org for times and locations.

Local students enroll; others study overseas

Joseph Crayton, of Beaufort, has enrolled as part of the Class of 2021 at Marietta College for the Fall 2017 semester.

Meanwhile, Michael Christian Bass, of Beaufort, is spending the semester in Switzerland. Bass is a member of the class of 2019.

Natalie Hudson Simkins, of Beaufort, is spending the semester in Barcelona, Spain. Simkins is also a member of the class of 2019.

State of the Schools to be held Nov. 1

The Beaufort Regional Chamber has rescheduled its annual State of the School event due to Tropical Storm Irma.

It will be held from 8-9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at Holiday Inn & Suites, 2225 Boundary St.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and the leaders from the area school systems will share information concerning education in Beaufort County and the impact on our community.

Speakers will include Spearman, Dr. Jeffrey Moss of the Beaufort County School District; Dr. Richard Gough, Technical College of the Lowcountry; and Dr. Al Panu, University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Guests will also hear from a panel of leaders representing the area’s private and charter schools including: Beaufort Academy, Bridges Preparatory School, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, John Paul II High School, Lowcountry Montessori School, Riverview Charter School and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

The cost is $20 for chamber members; $25 for nonmembers; and $160 for a table of eight.

Contact LaNelle at LaNelle@BeaufortSC.org.

New admissions director named at BA

Becky Bekemeyer
Becky Bekemeyer

Becky Bekemeyer has been named director of admissions at Beaufort Academy.

Bekemeyer, a native of Beaufort, is a registered nurse and received her Associate Degree of Science in Nursing in 2001. She most recently has been a labor and delivery nurse for the past 11 years, but previously worked in adult and pediatric nursing for five years.

She has been married to Jonathan Bekemeyer for 15 years, a current lieutenant with the Lady’s Island-St Helena Fire District who also works for the Fripp Island Fire Department.

Bekemeyer is replacing MJ Simmons, the admissions director at BA for the past seven years. 

“I know Becky will take care of our wonderful current and future families of Beaufort Academy,” said Simmons. “Becky is a great fit for the position with her detail oriented skills, and her knowledge of our school. We hope you have the opportunity to come meet her in the front office in the near future.”

Contact Bekemeyer at at bbekemeyer@beaufortacademy.org, 843-524-3393 or visit www.BeaufortAcademy.org for more information.

Local students are attending The Citadel 

The Citadel is welcoming the Class of 2021, which includes the following local students:

Briona Gray, Matthew Hurtt, Jakob Marsh, Dianna Munford, Jacob Ramseur  and Kenneth Spurlock, all of Beaufort.

In other Citadel news, Nicolas Cucinotta, of Port Royal, was awarded Gold Stars by The Citadel for earning a grade point ratio of 3.7 or higher during the 2017 spring semester. Students that achieve Gold Star recognition are also placed on The Citadel’s Dean’s List.

Digital Corridor to offer game design class 

The Beaufort Digital Corridor is launching Game On, a code education program geared toward middle and high school students who would like to learn the practice of game design and development.

Game On will introduce students to the theory, tools and practice required to create their own games. The six-week course will be taught by Seth Konoza, a Games, Computer Graphics and Animation educator from Beaufort High School.

This course will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays from Oct. 14-Nov. 18 at the Beaufort Digital Corridor’s BASEcamp facility.

Visit beaufortdigital.com.

Local students attend leadership program

in School News/Schools by
four

Photo above: From left are Clayton Ruff, May Harrelson, Will Warren and John Manos, who are displaying their certificates from the 2017 Palmetto Boys-Girls State Encampment. Photos provided.

From left are American Legion Post 207 Auxiliarians Jamesetta Inabinett, Ernestine Norman, Kim Holms and Alice Gaskins joining Chuck Lurey of Post 9 to congratulate May Harrelson for attending Palmetto Girls State Encampment.
From left are American Legion Post 207 Auxiliarians Jamesetta Inabinett, Ernestine Norman, Kim Holms and Alice Gaskins joining Chuck Lurey of Post 9 to congratulate May Harrelson for attending Palmetto Girls State Encampment.

Staff reports

American Legion Beaufort Post 9 sponsored three young men and the Samuel J. Bush Post 207 Auxiliary Unit sponsored two young ladies, all five local high school rising seniors, to South Carolina’s Palmetto Boys and Girls State encampments in June. 

Palmetto Boys State’s 1,050 participants gathered at Anderson University; while the Palmetto Girls State’s 640 young women met at Presbyterian College in Clinton. 

John Manos of Beaufort High School was elected mayor of his mock city, Congaree. “I learned an overwhelming amount about elections, winning and losing, and how many great future politicians there were,” he said.

Another attendee, Clayton Ruff, also of Beaufort High, hoped “that even more Beaufort boys have an opportunity to attend such a great week.” 

Will Warren of Beaufort Academy added that having already studied the structure and function of government, Boys State “made it very real for me in ways that a classroom never could.” 

May Harrelson of Beaufort High said Girls State “was a life-changing experience and a real eye opener on just how many really intelligent young women are in South Carolina.” 

Sarah Suber, also of Beaufort High, added that she “made so many friends and connections while attending Girls State.”

Boys State was first held in June 1935 in Illinois. South Carolina began to host the program in 1940. 

The American Legion founded the Boys State program to teach young men about government and politics. More specifically, the program is intended to spark interest and pride in government on a local level as well as the national scope. 

The greatest aspect of the program is that the participants learn by doing. Active participation in Boys State is key.

Palmetto Girls State is a one-week leadership and citizenship training program, created to educate outstanding high school students about state and local government and citizenship. 

Girls attending Palmetto Girls State experience governmental procedure by simulating political campaigns, elections and the political process. They also learn about the principles of citizenship and public service from guest speakers, expert panels and staff members.

The delegates, who are rising seniors in high school, are selected for the program based on the leadership skills and involvement they have shown in their respective schools and communities.

The South Carolina Department of the American Legion Auxiliary has organized and administered Palmetto Girls State since 1947. 

For more information, visit palmettoboysstate.com/about-palmetto-boys-state and palmettogirlsstate.net.

Sarah Suber and May Harrelson attended the 2017 Palmetto Girls State Encampment.
Sarah Suber and May Harrelson attended the 2017 Palmetto Girls State Encampment.

School briefs for September 7th-13th

in School News/Schools by

State of the Schools to be held Sept. 13

The Beaufort Regional Chamber will hold a State of the School event from 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Holiday Inn & Suites, 2225 Boundary St.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and the leaders from the area school systems will share information concerning education in Beaufort County and the impact on our community.

Speakers will include Spearman, Dr. Jeffrey Moss of the Beaufort County School District; Dr. Richard Gough, Technical College of the Lowcountry; and Dr. Al Panu, University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Guests will also hear from a panel of leaders representing the area’s private and charter schools including: Beaufort Academy, Bridge Preparatory School, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, John Paul II High School, Lowcountry Montessori School, Riverview Charter School and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

The cost is $20 for chamber members; $25 for nonmembers; and $160 for a table of eight. 

Contact LaNelle at LaNelle@BeaufortSC.org.

HTCC names chair of Humanities Department

Jonathan Councell
Jonathan Councell

Holy Trinity Classical Christian School has appointed Jonathan Councell chair of the Humanities department. Councell is a passionate and outspoken advocate of classical Christian education. In addition to teaching, he is a consultant in curriculum and pedagogy, a freelance writer and a lecturer.

Councell earned a Bachelor’s in Economics and a second Bachelor’s in Literature at Wheaton College in partnership with St. Anne’s College of the University of Oxford in England. 

Wheaton College is a Christian, private, residential, liberal arts college and graduate school located some 25 miles west of Chicago. The school is noted for its “twin traditions of quality academics and deep faith,” according to Time magazine. In 2016, Wheaton ranked eighth in the category of “Best Undergraduate Teaching” in the national rankings of American colleges and universities compiled by U.S. News & World Report. 

One of Oxford’s largest colleges, St. Anne’s prides itself on being informal, yet academically demanding. It is known for preparing its students for the globally connected society of the future.

Councell is also a graduate of the CiRCE Institute’s Master Teacher Program. CiRCE (Center for Independent Research on Classical Education) is a leading provider of inspiration, information and insight to classical educators throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

Councell’s academic interests are classical education, pedagogy, humane letters curriculum, Arthurian literature and metaphysical poetry, Miltonic Studies and Middle English.

He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club Alumni.

Councell and his wife, Laura, have a daughter, Claire Elaine; a springer spaniel named Bertram, a fife canary named Bryn, and a hedgehog named Nigel.

Founded in 2012, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School provides 300 students with a distinctly Christian and classical education. 

The student body of Holy Trinity is comprised of families from over a dozen Christian churches of various denominations. 

Visit www.htccs.org. 

Free GED classes are being offered

The Beaufort County School District Adult and Community Education and Palmetto Goodwill are offering free GED classes from 1-3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting Monday, Sept. 11.

Classes will be held at the Palmetto Goodwill Career Opportunity Center at 137 Parris Island Gateway in Beaufort.

For more information or to register, call 843-322-0780.

Holy Trinity names Borgert to faculty

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Dr. Elinor Borgert and her son Gray are shown here. Her daughters, Morgan and Mary, also attend Holy Trinity. Photo provided.
Dr. Elinor Borgert and her son Gray are shown here. Her daughters, Morgan and Mary, also attend Holy Trinity. Photo provided.

Holy Trinity Classical Christian School has appointed Dr. Elinor Borgert as a temporary high school science teacher for the fall semester.  

According to Holy Trinity Headmaster Rev. Chad E. Lawrence, “Holy Trinity is blessed to have a faculty member of this caliber. Although her appointment is temporary, Dr. Borgert’s contributions have already been significant.”

Borgert earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a minor in Medical Humanities at Davidson College in North Carolina and an M.Sc. in Health Economics at the University of York in England. In 2002, she earned a Ph.D. from the Department of Health Policy and Administration at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health at Chapel Hill with a concentration in epidemiology.

Prior to accepting her teaching assignment at Holy Trinity, Borgert worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Switzerland; the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington, D.C.; and the Belmont University College of Pharmacy in Nashville, Tenn. She has also spent nearly 12 years teaching at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

She is a lifelong member of St. Helena’s Church and a Master Naturalist, having been certified in 2014. 

In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, running, cooking and helping her children with their Holy Trinity homework.

Founded in 2012, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School provides 300 students with a distinctly Christian and classical education. Holy Trinity is the result of a long-standing commitment to education by the Parish Church of St. Helena, beginning in 1748 with the founding of the first free school in Beaufort, and later in 1801 by the donation of 20 acres of land for the establishment of Beaufort College, resulting in what is now the University of South Carolina Beaufort. The current student body of Holy Trinity is comprised of families from over a dozen Christian churches of various denominations. For more information about the academic excellence offered at Holy Trinity, visit www.htccs.org. 

Dataw Island members collect school supplies

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dataw

Photo above: Dataw Island members collected hundreds of items for Operation Backpack. Photo provided.

As any parent can attest, “back to school” time can be a costly venture. Although it can be a great boon for retailers, some families are not able to meet the demands of the back-to-school spending bump and the kids risk starting out the year two steps behind with insufficient supplies and ill-fitting uniforms.

Enter Dataw members. 

Whether gathering supplies for the children of migrant farm workers, supporting local school supply drives through United Way, adopting a school or volunteering with literacy programs, each year Dataw Island members contribute to the education of local children by donating supplies, money and a great deal of time and talent. 

One major initiative to which they contribute is Operation Backpack. A subsidiary of United Way of the Lowcountry, Women United started Operation Backpack four years ago to provide children in our community the tools they need to be successful in school. 

Dataw Island members play a large role in Operation Backpack under the guidance of fellow member Alison Barton, who coordinates the Dataw drive, collects the supplies, and serves as the liaison to United Way.

Jaime Dailey-Vergara, the director of Marketing & Communications for United Way of the Lowcountry, said, “We want to break any barrier that would prevent a student from succeeding in school, so when we learned that many students were starting the school year without the school supplies they needed, Operation Backpack was born.”

Local school guidance counselors help identify children in need who are not being served by another agency. Women United collects supplies and fills the backpacks with everything from pencils and paper to folders, crayons and glue sticks. Each of the children in the program are also given two school uniform shirts, which are specific to their size and school. Participating schools are also given paper products, hand sanitizer and other supplies for the classroom. 

“The support we receive from Dataw Island for this effort is incredible,” Dailey-Vergara said. “Dataw Island residents generously donated school supplies and financial support again this year to help make Operation Backpack successful. In addition, many Dataw residents volunteered their time helping to pack the backpacks and deliver them to the schools.”

As the saying goes, “It takes a village…” and this year was no exception. Two young ladies learned the gratification and joy of volunteering when Barton sought out volunteers to sort and organize the donations being collected, as she was not going to be in town during this phase of the project. 

In her absence, another Datawite, Kitty Trice, stepped up to the plate and volunteered herself and her granddaughters to take on the task, thinking it would be a nice activity for them one afternoon.

The first day that they went by Barton’s house to organize the collected supplies, Trice, along with Maddie, 11, and Lindsay, 7, were shocked to see the size of the pile of supplies that had already gathered. All three of them had fun working through the organization, Kitty said. 

The next day, they returned to see if any stragglers had showed up, and found another huge pile. And again, the next day.

“The girls and I were delighted,” Trice said. “They just loved being able to contribute to something meaningful and we all enjoyed the time together.”  

Barton expressed her gratitude for all of the volunteers. 

“We want to say a special thank you to the volunteers who collected the items, the volunteers who packed the bags, and the volunteers who delivered the backpacks to the schools (many over an hour away).  In two days, we packed over 600 backpacks. This could not have happened without the most generous donations from Dataw Island residents. Many, many thanks!”

Dailey-Vergara added, “We are so grateful for the generosity and caring spirit of the Dataw Island community. Dataw Island residents know what it means to live United!”

Begun just four years ago, Operation Backpack has continued to grow each year as more people learn about it and provide support. This fall, 600 backpacks full of supplies were delivered to students at eight schools throughout Beaufort and Jasper counties. Those interested in learning more about United Way of the Lowcountry and Women United can visit www.uwlowcountry.org or call 843-982-3040.  

For more on Dataw Island, visit www.dataw.com.

School briefs for August 31st-September 6th

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TCL is accepting nursing applications

The Technical College of the Lowcountry is accepting applications through Wednesday, Sept. 6, for spring 2018 entry to its associate degree in nursing (ADN) program. Classes start in January.

“Prospective students don’t have to wait until next fall to start pursuing their dreams of becoming a nurse,” health sciences dean Dr. Glenn Levicki said. “The sooner students start the program, the sooner they’ll finish and be able to enter a high-paying nursing career.”

TCL’s two-year ADN program prepares graduates to practice as registered nurses. Students experience on-campus learning using high-tech simulation equipment and receive additional hands-on practice at clinical sites located throughout Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties.

“The TCL nursing program in particular is rigorous but produces extremely qualified and successful graduates, giving them the confidence they need to excel in the nursing field,” nursing program director Mary Ann Jarmulowicz said.

TCL has campuses in Beaufort, Bluffton and Hampton. With S.C. Lottery Tuition Assistance, South Carolina residents pay around $1,000 a semester for full-time tuition, regardless of need or income.

In addition, TCL offers in-state tuition to military members and their spouses who are stationed in Beaufort and to residents of Chatham and Effingham counties in Georgia.

For more information, call 843-525-8267 or visit tcl.edu.

State of the Schools to be held Sept. 13

The Beaufort Regional Chamber will hold a State of the School event from 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Holiday Inn & Suites, 2225 Boundary St.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and the leaders from the area school systems will share information concerning education in Beaufort County and the impact on our community.

Speakers will include Spearman, Dr. Jeffrey Moss of the Beaufort County School District; Dr. Richard Gough, Technical College of the Lowcountry; and Dr. Al Panu, University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Guests will also hear from a panel of leaders representing the area’s private and charter schools including: Beaufort Academy, Bridge Preparatory School, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, John Paul II High School, Lowcountry Montessori School, Riverview Charter School and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

The cost is $20 for chamber members; $25 for nonmembers; and $160 for a table of eight.

Contact LaNelle at LaNelle@BeaufortSC.org.

Schools briefs for August 24th-30th

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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

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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 safetyed@burtonfd.org.

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