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Board of Ed OKs placing one-penny education sales tax with property tax cut on November ballot

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Citing a pressing need to accommodate rapidly increasing numbers of students, the Beaufort County Board of Education voted today to place a one-penny education sales tax on the November 2016 general election ballot for consideration by local voters.

Board Chair Mary Cordray released the following statement on behalf of the Board:

“After careful consideration of the district’s current capital needs and enrollment projections, the Beaufort County School Board voted to place a one-penny local education capital sales tax referendum on the November 2016 general election ballot. This referendum will allow voters to determine the method of funding used by the district to meet its growing capital needs, which include new construction and also extending the life of existing facilities. The ballot question will also include authorization to spend funds in anticipation of sales tax collections.

“If approved by Beaufort County voters in November, the tax, specified for a time period of ten (10) years, would be begin in March 2017 and expire automatically in 2027. Renewal would require a subsequent approval by voters in a future general election. In general, items currently exempted from tax would also be exempt from this education sales tax. For example, the sales tax would not apply to unprepared foods. It is estimated that over one-third of the revenue generated by a sales tax of this nature would come from non-Beaufort County citizens, including both tourists and residents from neighboring counties who visit and shop in Beaufort County.

“Funds from the one-penny education sales tax referendum would be used exclusively for capital projects as specified on the ballot question; state law would prohibit the funds from being used for operations. In addition, ALL Beaufort County property owners’ taxes on debt service, including 4 percent homeowners, 6 percent homeowners, businesses, vehicles, etc., would be reduced by one-third over the period of time the tax is in place.

“Between now and the November referendum, the Board and district will schedule multiple educational and informational public meetings in order to provide complete and accurate information to the public. Additionally, the school district will have the details of the proposal available on the district website. The Board’s goal is to ensure that parents, employees, and all Beaufort County taxpayers have access to the information they need to make an informed decision in the voting booth.

“If the sales tax referendum is not successful on the November 2016 ballot, the Beaufort County School Board will use other capital funding mechanisms available that would result in an increase in the school district debt service millage.”

Music to our ears

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SCHOOLS - BLUFF MIDDLE MUSICThe Bluffton Middle School Symphonic Band earned a Superior rating at the South Carolina Concert Performance Assessment (CPA). This is the highest honor that a group can receive and is the first in Bluffton Middle School history. These students were adjudicated on two performances, one prepared and one for sight-reading. The total of five judges, nationally acclaimed for their work, give the band a rating based on rigorous criteria.

The students earned an overall rating of Superior for the performance, including straight Superior ratings in sight-reading. No other Beaufort County School District middle school has received this honor in the traditional (6th – 8th grades) division in well over a decade. These students performed at the highest level and represented their school well.

WBMS to host Community Fun Day

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The Whale Branch Middle School is hosting the 2nd Annual Whale Branch Cluster Community Fun Day. This is an annual opportunity to promote community involvement, parental involvement and healthy lifestyles. It helps to foster school- community relationships in order to continue to be a power for good in the 21st Century. Last year’s celebration was a huge success and our goal this year is to create another outstanding event that will unify the community!

This event will be held on Saturday, April 30, at Whale Branch Middle School from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Events will include a community walk/run, health fair, rib cook-off and football game along with other exciting activities and performances.

TCL to hold open house

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The Technical College of the Lowcountry will host an all-day open house from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, April 21 in the MacLean Hall student Center at the Beaufort Campus, 921 Ribaut Road.

Experts from TCL’s admissions, financial aid and academic divisions will provide information and answer questions. Campus tours will run every 30 minutes throughout the day. In addition, faculty and current students will provide lab demonstrations across campus from 4 to 7 p.m.

TCL offers degree, diploma and certificate programs that lead to in-demand careers in industrial technologies, business technologies and health sciences.

In addition, TCL’s transfer degree programs allow students to complete their first two years of college at TCL and then transfer to the college or university of their choice. Continuing education and workforce development options are also available. Visit for a full list of programs.

“Because our students are actively engaged in hands-on learning experiences in real-world settings in and out of the classroom, they are truly prepared for the workforce when they complete their program of study,” Vice President for Student Affairs Nancy Weber said. “Plus TCL’s courses and programs are carefully designed to meet the needs of local employers, which help our graduates get great jobs in our area.”

In fact, more than 93 percent of recent TCL graduates are either continuing their education or employed in their field of study.

Federal and state financial aid options are available through the TCL financial aid office. Additionally, most South Carolina residents qualify for S.C. Lottery Tuition Assistance, which is not based on need or income, and can pay more than half of TCL tuition.

In-state tuition is offered to military members and their spouses who are stationed in Beaufort as well as to residents of Chatham and Effingham Counties in Georgia.

For more information, please call 843.525.8356 or visit

Fusion of science, student art and poetry mark annual ‘River of Words’ publication

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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 2016,” was unveiled before a reception crowd recently at the Port Royal Maritime Center. The annual student publication is the culmination of an interdisciplinary learning experience about the sound’s watersheds.

“‘River of Words’ lets students explore science and art in a seamless and interconnected way,” said project coordinator Heather Brabham. “It also lets students get out of their classroom and explore the amazing ecology and natural beauty of Port Royal Sound, which is a national treasure.”

Brabham said that second- through twelfth grade students from 19 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. More than 100 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 storm water run-off and discussed the effects of pollution and population growth. They kayaked the May River, rode in a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources “Discovery Vessel,” witnessed abundant wildlife at Nemours Plantation, toured Hunting Island State Park 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 sixth year, “River of Words” enables K-12 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.

Participating schools this year were: Battery Creek High, Beaufort Middle, Bluffton Elementary, Bluffton Middle, Broad River Elementary, H.E. McCracken Middle, Hilton Head Island Elementary, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts, Lady’s Island Elementary, M.C. Riley Elementary, Mossy Oaks Elementary, Okatie Elementary, Port Royal Elementary, Red Cedar Elementary, Riverview Charter School, River Ridge Academy, Robert Smalls International Academy, Whale Branch Elementary and Whale Branch Middle.

Brabham thanked the environmental organizations that taught students and teachers to examine and respect the uniqueness of the Port Royal ecosystem, as well as the local artists who helped students merge science and art into the book. Graphic artist Liz Chase incorporated hundreds of written texts and images into the book. Brabham also thanked the Port Royal Sound Foundation for helping to fund the project.

“River of Words” can be purchased for $20 at the school district office on Mink Point Boulevard. An exhibit of the students’ work will be on display at the district office until the end of May. The students’ original art is for sale for $25 each, with proceeds going to fund next year’s project.

Congratulations to River of Words winners

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Photo above: Mrs. Forman with the winners.

Bluffton Middle School is able to boast of seven winners in this year’s River of Words contest!  Seven students from Ms. Forman’s art classes were chosen to have their art work published in the Beaufort County School District’s contest River of Words 2015-16 edition.  These students have all been invited to a reception at the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center on April 6th and they will receive their own copies of this publication.

Congratulations to Max Rodriguez, Amada Katon, Ryan Keegan, Jacklyn O’Riordan, Domi Vicaro, Alexa Knight, and Lilyanna Vitiello.

BOE approves new start times for Hilton Head schools to match other district schedules

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The Beaufort County Board of Education voted recently to change start times for Hilton Head Island’s schools to match the schedules at other district schools that were approved by the Board on March 15. Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, all district elementary and PreK-8 schools will begin classes about 8 a.m., and middle and high schools will begin classes about 9 a.m.

Numerous scientific studies show that sleep-deprived adolescents often suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and declines in academic performance. Researchers say that because of hormonal changes that occur in adolescence, teens’ bodies are not ready to go to sleep earlier at night.

Hilton Head Island High School moved its starting time from 7:45 to 8:35 a.m. in a pilot initiative that began two years ago, and school officials said that the results have been positive.

“We’re seeing fewer students late to school, fewer disciplinary referrals and more students on the Honor Roll,” said Hilton Head Island High Principal Amanda O’Nan. “I can’t imagine going back.”

“The research is clear that adolescents who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression, are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents, and have better grades, higher standardized test scores and an overall better quality of life,” Owens said. “Studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn.”

Individual Beaufort County schools will determine their precise daily schedules later this spring and communicate those schedules to parents. Elementary and PreK-8 schools would begin classes about 8 a.m. and end about 3 p.m. Middle and high schools would begin classes about 9 a.m. and end about 4 p.m.

Moss said that schools would look at offering expanded adult supervision to accommodate parents whose work schedules affect their ability to drop off or pick up students at the new times.

4th graders receive Fire Chief’s Excellence Award

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After being presented the awards in front of their peers, and taking their celebratory fire truck ride complete with lights and sirens, the recognized students pose with Burton firefighters and their teacher. From left are Brenden Weber, Reynaldo Alvarado, Kanard Rivers, Kenyatta Major, Tai’jon Best, and teacher Angela Byrne.
After being presented the awards in front of their peers, and taking their celebratory fire truck ride complete with lights and sirens, the recognized students pose with Burton firefighters and their teacher. From left are Brenden Weber, Reynaldo Alvarado, Kanard Rivers, Kenyatta Major, Tai’jon Best, and teacher Angela Byrne.

Five 4th grade students from Broad River Elementary School received the Burton Fire District’s Fire Chief’s Excellence Award today for their academic efforts this year.

The Burton Fire District’s awards program is designed to support teachers in their classroom by promoting student achievement and behavior through the recognition of student accomplishments.

Burton firefighters love their job and say if it were not for teachers who encouraged them they may never have achieved their dream of being a firefighter. It is in this spirit of supporting teachers and helping students reach their dreams that this award program was created.

“It takes a community to raise a child,” stated Burton Fire Chief Harry Rountree, “and we are part of this community.”

Student science projects earn recognition at 2016 Sea Island Regional Science Fair

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Nearly 400 Beaufort County students, all top finishers at individual school science fairs across the county, competed for honors at the 2016 Sea Island Regional Science Fair.

Four projects developed by local students were recognized with Grand Awards for best-in-show status:

· Victoria Hamlin (Hilton Head Island High) – Design of a Sounding Rocket for Maximum Altitude.

· Ashley Hamlin (Hilton Head Island High) – Writing a Mathematical Model for Bubble Formation.

· Decker Paulmeier and Drew Lee (Bluffton High) – Comparative Analysis of the Effectiveness of Stealth Aircraft Methodologies.

· Maile Paulmeier (H.E. McCracken Middle) – Comparative Strength Analysis of an Artificial Monofilament Passive Fiber Skeletal Muscle vs. a Linear Actuator.

Grand Award winners at the high school level will travel to Phoenix, Az., in May for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where more than $4 million in prize awards is expected to draw about 1,700 student competitors from 75 countries.

“The work, the research and the creativity that goes into developing these projects is simply amazing,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “The entire district should be proud of these outstanding students and their teachers.”

First-place winners from the Beaufort County School District were Ashton Grant and Nathaniel Gosdin (Hilton Head Island High), Real Rocketry; Bill Dengler (Hilton Head Island High), Words that Can’t Be Strangled; James Lucas (H.E. McCracken Middle), Invisible Planes; Danielle Silvan (Hilton Head Island Middle), Sight and Balance; and Jenna Dean (Beaufort Middle), Fruit Fly Frenzy.

Each year its volunteers judge about 25 individual school fairs in addition to regional fairs for elementary, middle and high school students. Its pool of about 50 judges is composed mostly of retired engineers, scientists and doctors who volunteer their time between November and April to help support science in education through science fairs and other activities.

Students earn recognition in national arts, writing contest

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Beaufort County School District students have won 54 Southeast regional recognitions in the 2016 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition, with 51 of those awards going to students from Hilton Head Island High School.

The prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards describes itself as the nation’s longest-running recognition program for creative teens and the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers. Students in grades 7 through 12 submitted more than 320,000 works of art and writing in 28 categories. Winning students earn opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships.

Hilton Head Island High’s 51 awards included seven Gold Keys, 15 Silver Keys, 28 Honorable Mentions and one Scholastic Writing Award. The top award-winners – Gold Key recipients – advance to judging at the national level.

“These are very prestigious awards, and to earn so many of them is a wonderful reflection of the talents of our students and the quality of our teachers,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss.

Judges evaluate student artwork based on originality, technical skill and the emergence of a personal vision or voice. Former winners of Scholastic Awards include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Sylvia Plath and filmmaker Ken Burns.

Hilton Head Island High’s Gold Key winners were Chase Faulkner, “Enjoying the Sunday Paper: (Sculpture); Alanna Myers, “1st Street” and “Moriarty” (Digital Art); Danny Shaughnessy, “Bass Lake” (Digital Art); Alexandra Tappeiner, “Pyromania: (Digital Art); Alexis Yates, “At the Coast” (Digital Art); and Mariah Anderson, “Cracked” (Photography).

Hilton Head Island High’s Silver Key winners were Val Plasse, “Distance” (Photography); Ally Boys, “Triplets” and “Kitty Bot” (Sculpture); Junior Aedo, “Piano Competition” (Design); Eric Hunter, “Station 5 Logo” (Digital Art); Emma North, “The Keen Gaze” (Digital Art); Cade Saenz, “Hot Streak” (Digital Art); Brian Serrano, “Metastasizing Heart,” “Landscape” and “Happiness” (Digital Art); Danny Shaughnessy, “Light and Dark” and “Flaming Talon” (Digital Art); Alexis Yates, “Scarlett” (Digital Art); Johanna Moncada, “Badgalriri” (Digital Art); and Johanna Moncada, “Words from the Wise” (Film and Animation).

Beaufort High student Giammona Ashton won a Silver Key for “Miss Metamorphis” (Drawing and Illustration).

Battery Creek High School student Annette Burkey won an Honorable Mention for “Silent Tears” (Digital Art).

Bluffton High School student Ever Moreno won a Silver Key for “Out of the Window” (Drawing and Illustration).

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