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Students get bikes from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

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Photo above: Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority gave bicycles and helmets to 44 students at the fourth annual Bike-Give-Away. Photo provided.

Decked out in sorority apparel and wearing smiles of the season, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority gathered at Beaufort Middle School to present bicycles and helmets to students enrolled in the 11 elementary schools in the chapter’s service area.  

At this, the fourth annual Bike-Give-Away, 44 bicycles were presented to two boys and two girls from Beaufort, Broad River, Coosa, Joseph S. Shanklin, Lady’s Island, Mossy Oaks, Port Royal, St. Helena and Whale Branch elementary schools and Robert Smalls International Academy.

Each school’s social worker selected which students received bikes.  

About 34 of the 44 showed up with their parents, guardians and siblings to try out their shiny new gifts.

“This year we were pleased to have increased our efforts 100 percent,” said sorority president Viola Smalls. “Year to date, we have donated over 100 bicyles and helmets.”

The Annual Bike-Give-Away, the brain child of chapter vice president Dr. Monica Dawson, is only one of the sorority’s community service activities.  

The Beaufort Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta was chartered in 1976 by members from Beaufort and Jasper counties. Since its chartering the chapter has provided scholarships and sponsored programs and projects which promote educational, personal, political and social awareness.

School briefs for January 11th-17th

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Riverview accepting enrollment applications

Riverview Charter School is accepted applications through Wednesday, Jan. 31, for the 2018-19 school year.

Any applications received after 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 will not be eligible to participate in any ensuing lottery, but will be added to the lottery wait list.


In other Riverview news, the newly elected board members who will serve through Dec. 31, 2019, are Abyssinia Bandoh, Gayle Carroll, Katherine Ferguson, Mary Jordan Lempesis, Arthur O’Kelley and Julia Wittschen-Price.

School briefs for December 28th-January 3rd

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Nearly 200 Boxes of Cheer – decorated shoeboxes full of small gifts created by Beaufort County School District students – have been successfully delivered to Beaufort-based Marines deployed over the holidays on the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Gift items were gathered by the students and holiday cards were created by middle school students, with individual Marines’ gifts packaged in shoeboxes decorated by elementary school students. More than $800 in shipping costs were paid with donations from school district employees. Photos provided.
Nearly 200 Boxes of Cheer – decorated shoeboxes full of small gifts created by Beaufort County School District students – have been successfully delivered to Beaufort-based Marines deployed over the holidays on the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Gift items were gathered by the students and holiday cards were created by middle school students, with individual Marines’ gifts packaged in shoeboxes decorated by elementary school students. More than $800 in shipping costs were paid with donations from school district employees. Photos provided.

Information fairs coming on school choice program

The Beaufort County School District is gearing up to accept school choice applications for the 2018-19 academic year, the fourth year of the district’s expanded choice initiative.  

More than 3,500 district students currently attend schools outside their zoned attendance areas.

Two regional information fairs will give students and their parents opportunities to learn about the district’s choice programs and how to apply for them.  

The first fair will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, at Beaufort Middle School, and will spotlight choice programs in Northern Beaufort County.  

The second fair will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11, at H.E. McCracken Middle School in Bluffton, and will feature choice programs in Southern Beaufort County.

After the two regional fairs, individual schools will host their own meetings so students and parents can get more detailed on-site information about the choices they offer.

“The popularity of our program shows that when it comes to the education of their children, parents appreciate having choices,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “They appreciate being able to match their children’s individual talents and interests with the instructional methods that suit them best.”

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

Beaufort County students who attend choice programs do not pay extra tuition, although families are responsible for their students’ transportation if they live outside of the school’s attendance zone.  

All choice schools also serve children who live in their attendance zones, in addition to students from outside the zone who apply to attend.

School choice applications will be posted to the district’s website on Thursday, Feb. 1, and must be turned in by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28.  

Paper copies of the application will be available in school offices.

Moss said that all district schools will maintain a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics focus, as well the arts, world languages and technology.

Board asks voters to OK millions for schools

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By Amy Rigard

The Beaufort County School District’s board of education voted Dec. 12 to hold a countywide bond referendum on April 21 to raise not more than $76 million.

The money would be used to to address the overcrowding caused by the booming student population, as well as aging facilities, mostly in the southern part of Beaufort County.

If county voters approve the referendum, general obligation bonds not to exceed $76 million would be used to build additional classrooms at River Ridge Academy and May River High School; to construct a new school in Bluffton; and new Career and Technical Education (CATE) buildings at Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island high schools. Battery Creek and May River high schools already have CATE facilities. 

The decision to hold the special election split the board 6-5. The majority favors immediate action to begin construction, and the minority raised concerns over the higher cost and the fairness of scheduling a vote outside the general November election cycle. Traditionally, there is very low voter turnout on a Saturday.

Board members Mary Cordray, Earl Campbell, Geri Kinton, Cynthia Gregory, Bill Payne and Evva Anderson voted for the referendum proposed by Superintendent Jeff Moss. 

The minority bloc of John Dowling, David Striebinger, Joseph Dunkle, Christina Gwozdz and JoAnn Orischak wanted more time to further develop the referendum and favor buying portable classrooms to help alleviate the overcrowding problem while the plans on exactly how the taxpayers’ money would be spent are finalized. 

Those who voted against the referendum noted that this new motion was made quickly, and the accompanying projects list wasn’t introduced before the Dec. 12 meeting. 

Dunkle, who voted against the referendum, noted that of the five projects proposed to receive funding, only two were previously discussed, and no specific and concrete plans for the other three currently exist. 

He said the projects have unknown locations, an unknown timeframe for completion and no identified funding source since no millage exists to fund the projects. 

“It’s unfortunate this happened the way it did because I think if more time and thought had been given, there could have been buy-in from many of the board members,” said Dunkle. “It was very game, set, match, and they just wanted to push it through.” 

Those who voted in favor of holding the referendum in April argued that the county needs to address overcrowding issues immediately.

School briefs for December 21st-27th

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Photo above: Holy Trinity sixth-graders had an opportunity to meet George and Martha Washington as part of their study of American History. The portrayers, Bill and Cara Elder, traveled to Beaufort from DeLand, Fla., and enjoy providing lessons in living history as first-person interpreters of the Washingtons. Photo provided.

TCL honors associate degree nursing graduates

The TCL nursing graduates are Brittany Cava, Joseph Dimaria, Antoinette Elliott, Richard Free II, Daniel Henry, Tonja Kraft, Erin Rodnicki and Jessica Rooney.
The TCL nursing graduates are Brittany Cava, Joseph Dimaria, Antoinette Elliott, Richard Free II, Daniel Henry, Tonja Kraft, Erin Rodnicki and Jessica Rooney.

The Technical College of the Lowcountry recognized eight associate degree nursing (ADN) graduates during its Dec. 14 pinning ceremony at the Beaufort Campus.

“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. “We are so proud of this new class of nurses.”

During the ceremony, graduates receive their pins and light lamps, a nod to Florence Nightingale who carried a lamp to light her path as she cared for the sick and dying soldiers during the Crimean War.

In the last five years, nearly 200 students have completed TCL’s associate degree in nursing program. 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 intense additional hands-on practice at clinical sites located throughout Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties.

Visit to learn more about the program.

Beaufort County School District earns kudos

For the 18th consecutive year, the Beaufort County School District has earned an exemplary financial review from outside auditors.

The Greenville-based auditing firm of Elliott Davis told the board of education that it had found no weaknesses or deficiencies in the school district’s internal financial controls during the 2016-17 fiscal year and no findings of noncompliance with state or federal laws.

South Carolina state law requires all school districts to have their finances reviewed and analyzed each year by independent outside auditors.  

From May through October, a seven-person team of Elliott Davis auditors reviewed the school district’s FY 2016-17 finances. 

“Eighteen straight years of clean audits is strong evidence of a consistently efficient and effective financial operation,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Our county’s taxpayers can be confident that the district’s financial house is in order.”

In addition to the audit, the district contracts with Elliott Davis to more intensively examine its system of purchasing goods and services. The Beaufort County Board of Education also recently authorized a third independent audit to focus on expenditures made with purchase cards used by school and district office staff.

Applications open for Bridges Prep

Online applications for Bridges Preparatory School are being accepted through Wednesday, Jan. 21, for newly-enrolling students in grades K-11.

Bridges Prep is a fast-growing state charter school with an emphasis on active learning focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – plus a component of international study. It’s a tuition-free state charter school located in Beaufort.

Applications are taken online. Each new student applying for enrollment will be placed into a lottery for spots at Bridges Prep in 2018-2019. To help and encourage families to apply, computer kiosks are available at all three Bridges Prep campuses – the main office at 1100 Boundary St., K-12 at Celadon on Lady’s Island and the upper grades at Green Street.  

In January, families already attending Bridges Prep will be asked to submit their letters of intent to return for the upcoming school year, and those students are guaranteed a spot. Newly-enrolling students will be chosen by lottery for available spots in each grade.

When needed, wait lists are set for each grade; openings occur throughout the school year for students on the wait list. Applications received after Jan. 31 won’t be included in the Feb. 15 lottery and will be wait-listed.

To apply, visit and go to Apply! on the left-side navigation. Online applications are available in English and Spanish.

“We have seen continued strong growth in Bridges Prep and we are excited as we move into the high school grades,” board Chair Dee Matthews said. “In May of 2017 our academic growth and achievement earned us recognition as a State Charter School of Distinction. We are getting ready to start Phase 1 of our new school campus in Port Royal. It’s an exciting time to be at Bridges.”

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 to almost 700 students this year. For the 2018-2019 school year, Bridges Prep will expand to 11th grade and by 2019 will be a full-service K-12 public charter school.

The current school is spread across three buildings in Beaufort and Lady’s Island. For the upcoming school year, grades K-2 will be at the Celadon Campus on Lady’s Island and grades 3-7 will be on the main campus at 1100 Boundary St. Upper School grades 8-11 will be housed in modular classrooms at the Port Royal property just south of Walmart at Cross Creek on Robert Smalls Boulevard.

As a state charter school, Bridges Prep is open to all students in the Lowcountry without tuition. 

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

New scholarship will benefit local students 

Inspired by the movie “Hidden Figures,” a Beaufort County couple has established a new endowment that will provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) college scholarships for Beaufort County students.

The movie, released earlier this year, is about a group of African-American women math experts who worked in the early 1960s for what later became NASA. The women’s math skills and determination to overcome high hurdles made them irreplaceable to the nation’s nascent space program.

“When we saw the movie ‘Hidden Figures,’ we were very touched by its lessons and positive images,” said David Stewart. “So many children today would benefit from direction and something to believe in – the most important tools in the path to success.”

Stewart and his wife Catherine have set up an endowment to fund two STEM scholarships for graduating seniors each year through the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

“The Hidden Figures STEM Scholarship fund is a welcome addition to our roster of community charitable giving, and we look forward to shepherding its growth,” said Gloria Duryea, the foundation’s stewardship officer.

Stewart said that he and his wife are encouraged by the positive response to date from the endowment’s fund-raising drive, and they expect to offer the first scholarships in 2018.

Interested persons should send their checks to: Coastal Community Foundation,  2015 Boundary St., Suite 215, Beaufort, SC 29902.  

Donors are asked to include on their checks’ memo lines the words “Hidden Figures STEM Scholarships.”  

For more information, contact Catherine Stewart at

The Stewarts also purchased two DVD copies of the “Hidden Figures” movie for every school media center in the district.

 “STEM education is a key part of the Beaufort County School District’s mission, and it’s impossible for students to watch this movie and not be inspired to learn as much as they can and work as hard as they can to achieve their personal goals,” said N’Kia Campbell, the district’s director of Academic Initiatives.

Exchange Club names Student of the Month

Will Warren
Will Warren

Will Warren, a senior at Beaufort Academy, won Student of the Month for the Beaufort Exchange Club. He will now advance to the Student of the Year competition. The program advances through the state and national levels. 

The Exchange Club of Beaufort is America’s Service Club, which works to better the community through programs of service in Americanism, community service, youth activities and its national project, The Prevention of Child Abuse. The Exchange Club of Beaufort was chartered in 1987 and is dedicated to the elimination of child abuse. Through their Annual Charity Auctions, Ghost Tours and various contributions,  the Exchange Club has raised more than $850,000  from its service activities for the Child Abuse Prevention Association of Beaufort County in addition to over $25,000  worth of youth scholarships to worthy high school seniors.

You’re invited to school performances

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Photo above: Singers from Shanklin Elementary School entertain with Christmas songs at Habersham in 2016. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Staff reports

Community members are invited to join thousands of parents for holiday-themed student musical performances that begin this week and continue through Tuesday, Dec. 19, at schools across the Beaufort County School District.

Student choruses, bands and orchestras will perform concerts, and some schools also will feature exhibits of student artwork.  Most performances are free, although some schools do request donations.

“These holiday performances are terrific in so many ways,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Our students get the opportunity to demonstrate their talents in front of their families, and educators get to see the fruits of their efforts on stage. From the audience’s perspective, families get to see some truly wonderful holiday shows.”

Local private schools are also holding Christmas events.

Holy Trinity Classical Christian School students in grades K-10 will be performing carols as part of the school’s 6th Annual Christmas Concert, Gloria in Excelsis Deo- A Festival of Lessons in Carols.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, at Community Bible Church located at 636 Parris Island Gateway in Beaufort. 

In what has become a Holy Trinity tradition, “Adeste Fideles” (“O Come All Ye Faithful”) will be sung in Latin. 

The public is invited to attend free of charge. For more information, visit or call 843-522-0660.


Thursday, Dec. 14

6 p.m.: River Ridge Academy

6 p.m.: Whale Branch Elementary

6 p.m. Beaufort Middle School

6:30 p.m.: Broad River Elementary

6:30 p.m.: Robert Smalls International Academy

6:30 p.m.: Battery Creek High

7 p.m.: Beaufort High School

Monday, Dec. 18

6 p.m.: Lady’s Island Elementary

6:30 p.m.: Lady’s Island Middle School

Tuesday, Dec. 19

6:30 p.m.: Port Royal Elementary

6:30 p.m.: St. Helena Elementary

School briefs for December 14th-20th

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Tech education being offered at CODEcamp

Students study web development at USCB. Photo provided.
Students study web development at USCB. Photo provided.

The Beaufort Digital Corridor has announced the launch of CODEcamp, a project-based, introductory code education program designed for busy adults of all backgrounds and experience levels in a convenient, affordable after-hours class format.  

CODEcamp is being offered as a pilot program in partnership with the University of South Carolina Beaufort with the course taught by Dr. Brian Canada, a professor in Computational Science who regularly teaches USCB’s own courses in front-end and back-end web development.    

The in-classroom, eight-week Introduction to Web Development course will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays at the Beaufort Digital Corridor’s BASEcamp business incubator at 500 Carteret St.

The cost of the program is $295 with attendance limited to 10 seats. 

One of the four tenets of the Beaufort Digital Corridor is talent. 

“Our goal in launching CODEcamp is to position Beaufort for high-wage tech and knowledge-based companies by improving the technical education skills of our citizens,” said Beaufort City Councilman Stephen Murray.    

“We are pleased to extend our CODEcamp program to Beaufort,” said Charleston Digital Corridor Director Ernest Andrade. “With over 2,000 attendees to the program in Charleston since launch in 2012, many of our graduates are finding employment in the tech industry while other working professionals are able to extend their knowledge by broadening their technical skill set.” 

The initial eight-week Introduction to Web Development course is scheduled to begin Saturday, Feb.17, 2018. Registration is now open.


Students choose name for sheriff’s bloodhound

Beaufort County elementary students voted on a name for the sheriff’s office new bloodhound. Photo provided.
Beaufort County elementary students voted on a name for the sheriff’s office new bloodhound. Photo provided.

Over the past three weeks, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Community Resource Officers and K-9 handlers have visited Beaufort County’s public and private elementary schools with its new 6-month-old female bloodhound, asking students to vote on a name for her. 

The elementary school students were presented with six names to choose from: Sandy, May, Tabby, Starr, Josie and Nosie. 

The name that received the most votes was Starr. 

The new bloodhound’s duties will be to track and help locate missing persons and fleeing fugitives.  

Foundation to present first annual awards

The first annual Lowcountry Lifetime Achievement Awards will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, 2018, 

The Foundation for Leadership Education will present 12 awards to leaders who have made a profound impact throughout the history of the Lowcountry. 

The event will be black tie with a sit-down dinner, libations and music at the Tabby Place in downtown Beaufort. 

The Foundation for Leadership Education’s (FLE) primary objectives are to support leadership education, promote leadership awareness and to maintain the Lowcountry Lifetime Achievement Awards program. 

The FLE was founded by local leaders of Beaufort County that represented business, community development, education, management and the military.  

Armed with a vision to help “Prepare Tomorrow’s Leaders,” the group committed itself to supporting programs with a commitment to developing well-rounded, open-minded critical thinkers preparing to be the problem-solvers of the future.   

In addition, the founders were dedicated to honoring the history of leadership in the Lowcountry by recognizing individuals and organizations that have contributed to the general welfare and development of the community. 

As a result, the foundation is committed to partnering and funding the following project types:

• Scholarships for students at schools or organizations fully committed to providing a full program of curriculum and activities dedicated to developing leadership skills in youth. Such programs must include credit-bearing courses that lead to a complete course of study.

• Academic scholarships for students entering college and have demonstrated strong leadership skills in high school.  Honorees must be enrolled at an accredited educational institution.

• Community Leadership Conferences and/or workshops for youth and adults. 


High school students take top honors at event

Beaufort County high school students earned numerous top honors and won key elections at the recent state 2017 Model Legislature and Court conference in Columbia.

More than 2,000 high school students attended the three-day event at the Columbia Convention Center, participating in simulations of South Carolina’s democratic process. 

Acting as state legislators, the students wrote, debated and voted on legislation. Students also acted as candidates, lobbyists, news media, lawyers and judges.  

Beaufort High and Bluffton High students were honored as “premier delegations” to the annual event. In addition, Beaufort, Bluffton and May River high school students earned a variety of individual honors.

The Senator Clemente Pinckney Award was awarded to Ta’Leah Morgan  of Beaufort.

Local student inducted into honor society

Andrew Stoddard of Beaufort was recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Stoddard is pursuing a degree in Biological Science at Clemson University.

Stoddard is among approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

HTCCS teacher named outstanding educator

Christy Mixson
Christy Mixson

Christy Mixson, a sixth-grade teacher at Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, has been named the Outstanding Teacher of American History by the Thomas Heyward Jr. Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Beaufort. 

She will now compete for a state award presented by the DAR.

“American history, in particular, has a special place in my heart because I realize the value of our American freedom,” said Mixson. “I want the students at the sixth-grade level to learn the basic facts of American history. But more than that, I want them to see the good that America has accomplished in the world.”

Mixson teaches a curriculum that encompasses Christian Studies, Famous Men of Greece, American History, Latin, Math, Language Arts (composition, spelling and grammar), Literature and Science. 

“A lot of what I do is seek to inspire,” she said. “I allow my love for America to infuse our readings, discussions and memorizations so as to nourish their appetite to understand at their level the complexity of the times that America has come through.”

Mixson’s 17 students memorize more than 200 facts about American History and the names of the presidents in order. They study American History from colonial times through the modern period. 

Mixson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion summa cum laude at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va. She is studying for a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. 

She and her husband, Chris, live in Port Royal. They have two grown children. 

New Charter School application opened

Families of Lowcountry students who will be in grades 6-10 next school year are encouraged to apply online for enrollment at Polaris Tech Charter School, a new public charter school opening in Ridgeland for the upcoming school year.

To apply, visit and click on the “Ápply” tab. The entire application process is online and can be done on a computer, tablet or smartphone. 

Polaris Tech is a state-approved charter school to serve middle and high school students from Jasper County and the Lowcountry. It is a free school (no tuition), that will focus on preparing young people for successful work and college.

To help parents and guardians use the online student application tool for Polaris Tech, a series of community student sign-up meetings are set for:

• 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, The Morris Center

• 3-5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, Hardeeville Library

• 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, 696 S. Jacob Smart Blvd. in Ridgeland

Parents/guardians should bring their smartphones or tablets. All locations have Wi-Fi and parents will complete the online application process on-site.


School briefs for November 30th-December 6th

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Polaris Tech developer finalizes land purchase

This is an architect’s rendering of the entry to Polaris Tech Charter School.
This is an architect’s rendering of the entry to Polaris Tech Charter School.

Polaris Tech Charter School’s facility developer, True North Companies LLC, has finalized the purchase of a 5.5-acre property where the new state charter school will be built.

With the purchase complete, permits are being secured to begin demolition of the former building on the site. Once demolition is done and the site is prepped, construction of the approximate 28,000-square-foot building will begin. Completion is expected next summer in time for Polaris Tech’s mid-August opening.

Student applications will be available online in mid-December. Polaris Tech will enroll up to 250 students in grades 6-10 for the coming school year. It will then add 11th grade in 2019 and 12th grade in 2020.

“We are happy that the property purchase is done and Polaris Tech is one step closer to rising up to help the young people of Jasper County and the Lowcountry,” said retired Air Force Gen. Lloyd “Fig” Newton, a Jasper native and one of the founders of Polaris Tech.

True North Companies, based in Roswell, Ga., is familiar with South Carolina’s regulations and permitting requirements for K-12 schools as they are building charter schools across South Carolina.

Walt Gill, president of True North, said the property closing opens the door for more visible improvements to the property.  

“Step by step, we are going to help Polaris Tech build a charter school that is shaped by what will happen inside the walls to boost student achievement,” he said.

Even as the developer closed on the property, Polaris Tech organizers are seeking an executive director to lead the school and prepare for the August opening. Applications for the job are being accepted and details are available at

The executive director will work closely with the board on matters such as hiring staff, finalizing curriculum, reviewing documents such as student and employee handbooks, and adding input to the school facility construction.

William Singleton, former superintendent of Jasper County Schools and a founding member of Polaris Tech, said “I am amazed each week at how much progress this school is making. The community and especially the young people of Jasper County are going to find an exciting new place to learn and prepare for their future.”

The Polaris Tech academic emphasis will be on six career areas: aerospace, health science, information technology, logistics, advanced manufacturing and business management. Applications start in mid-December and will close March 31, 2018.


Board member to hold town hall

Beaufort County Board of Education member John Dowling has scheduled a town hall meeting to hear from constituents.

Dowling, who represents portions of Okatie as well as Sun City Hilton Head, will meet with interested constituents at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Mill Creek Club House, located at 140 Colvin Drive in Bluffton.

Any issue relating to Beaufort County’s public schools will be open for discussion, including the district’s plans to accommodate growing student enrollment in the Bluffton area.

New faces to join Bridges Prep board 

Newcomers Tom Angelo, David Gault and Kelly McCombs joined incumbents James Corbin and Peggy Feuerbeacher in winning election to the Bridges Preparatory School board of directors after a public vote count Nov. 16.

Angelo works with GCA and is the maintenance grounds manager for the Beaufort County School District.

Gault, a newcomer to the Beaufort area, is an attorney specializing in compliance. He is also a trained and certified mediator. 

McCombs is an instructor and student adviser in the Department of Hospitality Management at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Corbin works with the information technology department at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and previously provided IT support at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. 

Feuerbacher is a retired school teacher with a master’s degree in education and is national board certified. 

“We had an amazing slate of highly-qualified candidates,” board Chair Dee Matthews said. “It was great that no matter who was elected, we knew we’d have strong leadership, but it also means some well-qualified people didn’t get elected. Thank you to all the candidates for stepping forward and offering to make Bridges Prep even better.”

The newly-elected and re-elected board members join incumbents Dee Matthews, Marty Miley and Brooke Pacheco. They’ll be sworn in Dec. 14.

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 700 students enrolled in K-10 this year. 

School leaders are preparing to build a new school campus in Port Royal off Robert Smalls Parkway.

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

Students asked to name sheriff’s bloodhound

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Community Resource Officers and K-9 handlers have been escorting their newest edition to the Bloodhound Tracking Team through all of Beaufort County’s elementary schools —public and private — to engage the students and enlist their help in naming her. 

She is a 6-month-old bloodhound acquired from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and her duties will be to track missing persons and fugitives. 

The students have been provided with six names to choose from: Sandy, May, Tabby, Starr, Nosie and Josie. The children will be able to individually cast a vote for their favorite name for the new bloodhound. School administrators have agreed to submit the votes from their respective elementary schools to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, where the votes will be tallied. Results are expected to be complete by Dec. 8.

School briefs for November 23rd-29th

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The Technical College of the Lowcountry held a ribbon cutting for its welding and CDL programs. Photo provided.
The Technical College of the Lowcountry held a ribbon cutting for its welding and CDL programs. Photo provided.

TCL to offer classes for welding, CDL

The Technical College of the Lowcountry Center for Business and Workforce Solutions held a ribbon cutting on Nov. 10 for its new Mobile Welding Training Center and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program.

The celebration was held at the TCL New River Campus in Bluffton and featured messages from TCL President Richard Gough and state Sen. Tom Davis.

“These programs are a win for the Lowcountry. Enhanced workforce development initiatives directly benefit the economic vitality of the Lowcountry,” Gough said.

Davis agreed. “TCL is where the rubber hits the road. We need to understand just how important technical colleges are to workforce development and industrial and business recruitment,” he said.

TCL received a $1.35 million appropriation from the state of South Carolina to fund the programs. 

The Mobile Welding Training Center is one of only two such systems in the country and will provide student training, incumbent worker training and travel to schools throughout the Lowcountry.

The center features six state-of-the-art welding simulators and a live welder for demonstration purposes.  

The center will enhance TCL’s existing welding programs at the Beaufort and Hampton campuses.

“We believe that technical training is key to worthy careers for today and tomorrow,” said Sean Henrickson, vice president for Continuing Education & Workforce Development. “The center will help promote welding and other technical careers as we take it out across the Lowcountry.”

The college also purchased two tractor trailers to offer CDL training at its New River and Hampton campuses. Truck driving is one of the most in-demand professions regionally and nationally, and with the Jasper Ocean Terminal, local demand for CDL professionals is expected to grow exponentially.

“Now is the time to prepare these workers,” Gough said. “We are ensuring there is a pipeline of skilled professionals to meet current and future workforce needs.”

Davis pledged continued support to the Lowcountry and to the college.

“The next 10 to 15 years for Beaufort and Jasper are going to be tremendously exciting and the Technical College of the Lowcountry is going to be at the center of it all,” Davis said.

For more information about Welding and CDL, contact Sean Henrickson at or 843-525-8369.

District’s high school graduation rate up

The Beaufort County School District’s on-time high school graduation rate improved for a seventh consecutive year in 2017 to reach a new all-time high, according to data released by the South Carolina Department of Education. 

The district’s graduation rate – the percentage of students who complete high school “on time” and earn a diploma in four years – improved to 84.1 percent, up from 83.4 percent in 2016 and up from 75.3 in 2013.

“If your entire system is improving, all the way from prekindergarten through grade 12, then on-time graduation rates can be viewed as key indicators,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Seven straight years of improvement is something that everyone can be proud of, and that means our educators, our students, our parents and all of our community supporters.”

Moss described a high school diploma as an “entry-level credential.”

“Nearly all productive and good-paying careers today require some education or training beyond high school,” he said, “and earning a diploma is the first step toward those careers.”

Moss said that the district’s improving graduation rates are the result of a comprehensive strategy that included:

• Effectively and quickly identifying students when they start to struggle academically.

• Providing those students with intensive counseling, direct assistance and additional individualized instruction from teachers. High schools receive additional funds to support individualized tutoring efforts.

• Credit recovery initiatives that allow students to earn credits in courses where they struggle.

• The district’s transition to a “four-by-four block schedule” that offers students more opportunities to earn the state-required total of 24 credits to earn a diploma.

• Special efforts like “Knockout Dropout Day” each September, when educators and community volunteers visit the homes of students who haven’t returned to classes for the new school year. Volunteers work to convince those students to return to school.

The latest high school graduation rates are featured in 2017 School Report Cards released by the South Carolina Department of Education. The annual Report Cards allow parents and the public to view numerous data points on public schools, ranging from teacher experience to parent satisfaction. Also available for review are previously released student testing data.

South Carolina’s overall 2017 on-time graduation rate was 84.6 percent, up 2 percent from last year and an all-time high for the state.

For the first time ever in 2017, on-time graduation rates at two Beaufort County School District high schools – Hilton Head Island and May River High – exceeded 90 percent.

Looking at five-year trend data, Battery Creek High’s on-time graduation rate improved from 77 percent in 2013 to 77.4 percent in 2017.  

Beaufort High improved from 79.7 to 87.5 percent; Bluffton High improved from 71.2 percent to 82.7 percent; Hilton Head Island High improved from 83.5 percent to 90.2 percent; and Whale Branch Early College High improved from 74.2 percent to 83.9 percent.  

May River High graduated 93 percent of its first senior class.

The superintendent said that increased graduation rates represent improvements at all grade levels, not just high school.

“In order for students to be successful in high school, they’ve got to have solid preparation in elementary and middle school,” Moss said. “It takes work and attention at each grade level in order for students to be successful at the end, when they walk across that stage and pick up the diplomas they’ve earned.”

School briefs for November 16th-22nd

in School News/Schools by

District receives $50,000 for screening programs

Hundreds of Beaufort County children are expected to receive developmental screenings and needed educational intervention to prepare them for kindergarten, thanks to $50,000 in additional funding from The Learning Center Fund of Coastal Community Foundation.

The screenings will be conducted by the Child Find Expansion Program, which offers comprehensive vision, hearing, speech and developmental screenings each month at Beaufort Elementary and Michael C. Riley Early Childhood Center for children ages 2½ to 6.

The Child Find team consists of a registered nurse, a speech therapist and early childhood professionals.  

Additional funding from The Learning Center Fund has allowed the program to hire an additional part-time early childhood professional to work directly with families in need of follow-up services and formal education for their children. 

Follow-up services include additional referrals, connections to community resources, home visits, parenting/child advocacy and proactive early interventions.

“Since 2013, we’ve been able to screen an additional 1,500 children and identified 329 children with suspected developmental delays,” said Ashley Hutchison, the district’s director of School Readiness. “The Learning Center’s support makes it possible to help prepare children for success in kindergarten and beyond.”

Learning Center board chairman Malcolm Goodridge and board member Charles Kresch were recognized for their organization’s latest donation at a recent Beaufort County Board of Education meeting.

During the past four years, the Child Find Expansion Program has received a total of $297,000 from the Learning Center Fund of Coastal Community Foundation.

A comprehensive media campaign has been successful in recruiting children from public, private and parochial schools, child care centers, family day care homes and Head Start. The Child Find Expansion Program also receives referrals from local pediatricians, the Medical University of South Carolina, Healthlink, the South Carolina Department of Social Services, Babynet, hospitals, Child Abuse Prevention Association, Citizens Opposed to Domestic Violence and Hope Haven.

 “Our goal as a community should be to keep our children energized about learning, through their school years and beyond,” said Learning Center board member Charles Kresch. “Through The Learning Center Fund, we aim for children to reach their highest potential.”

Child Find Expansion was designed to provide insight into the early intervention needs in Beaufort County. The Child Find data collection system developed by the district has the ability to track children throughout their educational careers and can be utilized in determining the percentage of children who are considered “ready to learn” upon entering the first grade.

“We know from research how much young learners can benefit from prekindergarten, and the first step for the school district is identifying these children’s specific needs,” Hutchison said.  “The support we’ve gotten from the Learning Center Fund has been extraordinary.”

For more information about the Child Find Expansion Program, contact Hutchison at 843-521-2399.

11th-graders outpace peers on ACT exams

District high school students outperformed their peers from across South Carolina on a key statewide exam during the 2016-17 school year, according to data released recently by the South Carolina Department of Education.

In the third year of South Carolina’s required statewide administration of ACT college entrance exams to all 11th-graders, Beaufort County students exceeded state averages in all five subject areas measured by the ACT.  Their average composite score was 18.4 on ACT’s 36-point scale compared to the state average of 17.7. 

Comparing scoring with previous years, district 11th-graders improved from 18.2 in 2015 to 18.3 in 2016 to 18.4 in 2017.

“Our 11th-graders have improved their ACT scores each year,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “We’re not where we want to be in terms of student achievement, but it’s encouraging that our high schools are making steady progress.”

In addition to state-required ACT testing in students’ junior year, individual students can choose to take the ACT additional times as seniors to increase their scores.   

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