The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) and Upchurch & Jowers Insurance Agency recognized 32 students for their academic achievements Monday. The 19th annual Upchurch & Jowers All-County Academic Team Banquet took place at Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Camden.
The tradition of the academic team goes back to 1995 when Victor Jowers and Joe Upchurch were looking for a way to assist the district in its mission. Jowers felt public recognition of student athletes was getting all the support it needed. He contacted then KCSD Superintendent Dr. Ralph A. Cain with the idea of forming a school/business partnership to additionally recognize academic excellence among the county’s high school students.
At Monday’s banquet, Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS) Principal Tommy Gladden, North Central High School (NCHS) Principal Worth Thomasson and Camden High School (CHS) Principal Dan Matthews presented a plaque to each student from their respective schools who had been selected for the team. The principals also spoke about their students and the school year as a whole.
Gladden pointed out that L-EHS students were approaching college with experience and a financial advantage. He said students from L-EHS were embarking for college with a collective 200 hours of college credit.
“Parents, your students are going to be saving about $17,000 in tuition,” he said. “I’m not sure what that looks like or what kind of car you’ll be getting them, but that’s just one suggestion.”
Thomasson talked about the connection between the NCHS graduating class and the lower grades at the school and the positive effect the seniors have had. He said he had asked teachers at NCHS to come up with words to describe the 2014 graduating class. One word that especially stood out was “inspirational,” noting the class has inspired other classes at NCHS to strive to do better.
“I believe your class was instrumental in getting our students to want more, to not settle for second, to want to do their best, no matter what the options,” Thomasson said.
Matthews discussed the connection between CHS students and their community. He said he is always especially touched when CHS graduates come back to Camden to raise their families.
“This class is very special to me because this group was (made up of) freshmen when I came back to Camden High School (as principal). So, in a sense, we started high school together … we’ve accomplished a great deal,” Matthews said.
He added that CHS students have given more than $100,000 and thousands of hours of service to the community.
Students from all three schools expressed their gratitude to their families, their teachers and principals and guidance counselors and to Upchurch & Jowers for the opportunity to be recognized for their intellectual prowess.
KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan, who said the event is one of his favorite of the year, encouraged students to remember how important their families were in facilitating their success.
“I’d like to recommend, sometime between now and the end of the school year, that you really thank your families for all they’ve done for you,” Morgan told this year’s team. “When you get older and look back, I think you’ll see they’ve really done a lot.”
This year’s All-Academic Team includes, from CHS, Henrietta Shannon Gantt, Kassandra Lee Ann Glover, Caroline Baxley Kelly, Sydney Renee Morris, Stuart Dunbar Pennebaker, Bethany Amber Ridley, Kayla Elizabeth Wallace, Margaret Lackey Wehunt, Zack Maxwell Watson, Jordan Elizabeth Woody, Madison Ann Woody; from L-EHS, Thomas Gunnar Branham, Erin Patrice Clemans, LeAnn Jeanette Haga, Morgan Leigh Humphries, Ethan Douglas Kirkland, Kathryn Ann Lankford, Breanna Nicole Mackey, Ryan Phillips McRoy, Kelli Cheri Murphy,Victoria Thu Phan, Mikaela Alen York; and from NCHS, Breanna Danyel Boone, Kayla Danielle Bowers, Summer Danielle Catoe, Megan Elizabeth Gardner, Madison Layne German, Hailey Danielle Hunter, Luke William Leigh, Sparrow Ranee Ostas, Tracy Jordan Phillips and Christian Tyler Rathel.