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A very good year!
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A few weeks back, I heard two high school students talking about the upcoming prom and other end-of-the-year activities. It doesn’t seem possible, but the year has flown by. In spite of all the challenges our community, state, and nation continue to face because of the economy, it’s been a very good year in the Kershaw County School District! I thought I’d spend a little time this month touching on a few of the countless highlights of this year.

• The district’s SAT and ACT scores showed significant increases even with a much larger number of students taking the test. All three of our high schools were recognized by the State Department of Education for this accomplishment.

• All Kershaw County elementary schools achieved “Adequate Yearly Progress” for the first time. 

• Performance on PASS tests and graduation rates continued to show growth and improvement.

• Nine schools were recognized by the State Department of Education with Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards for outstanding academic performance, including Baron DeKalb Elementary, Bethune Elementary, Blaney Elementary, Camden Elementary, Wateree Elementary, Stover Middle, Lugoff-Elgin Middle, North Central Middle and Camden High.

• Camden, Lugoff-Elgin, and North Central high schools together raised over $24,000 for the United Way, one of many charitable causes our students and schools supported this year.

• Camden Elementary teacher Trudy Ranges was named an Unsung Hero by ING, which awarded $2,000 to the school’s reading program in her honor.

• All schools in Kershaw County achieved passing or better ratings on the State Report Card for the first time since the Report Cards were instituted.

• Blaney Elementary teacher Tonya Jackson was chosen as a national finalist for a Presidential Teaching award in science. 

• Seven more Kershaw County teachers earned National Board Certification, bringing the district’s total to 151.

• The School Improvement Councils of Baron DeKalb Elementary and Doby’s Mill Elementary were named to the South Carolina School Improvement Council Honor Roll for 2011.

• The Blaney Elementary Archery Team won the state championship, earning the right to compete in the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky. 

• North Central High was recognized with a “Champions of the Environment” award by DHEC.  

• Camden Middle students won seven out of 10 awards given for best seventh-grade projects at the Regional Science Fair.

• The Hospitality Program at North Central High won the State Championship, earning the right to compete in the national competition in Orlando, Florida.

• Doby’s Mill Elementary was selected as a 2011 “School of Character.”

• The district received the highest possible rating on its yearly financial audit.

• A national study measuring the productivity of every school district in the country rated the Kershaw County School District as providing a “high return on investment” -- the only school district in the Midlands and one of only 12 in the state to earn the report’s highest rating.  (This one may be my favorite because an outside entity recognized what we already knew.)

• The new Jackson School became the first “LEED Gold” certified school in South Carolina for its environmentally sustainable design.

• Camden High School senior Aly Bolin was named a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist and Lugoff-Elgin High School senior Jack Wood was named a semi-finalist in the National Achievement Scholarship competition.

• Director of Pupil Services (and former ATEC Director) Allen Teal was named to the South Carolina Career and Technical Education Hall of Fame. 

• Pine Tree Hill Elementary School instructional assistant Rebecca South was named the South Carolina “Paraprofessional of the Year.” 

• The Lugoff-Elgin Middle School wrestling team won the state championship.

• Lugoff-Elgin High School wrestler Will Connell won the individual state championship in the 171-pound weight class. 

• Applied Technology Education Campus (ATEC) students exceeded national career and technical education performance standards for 2010.

• The first phase of the programs funded by the $5.7 million “Safe Schools/Healthy Students” grant was implemented. The structure of this grant is a national model because it utilizes existing community agencies and resources to deliver services to students and their families. The grant also led to United Way being awarded a $300,000 federal grant to support an intensive mentoring program.

All of this just scratches the surface, and doesn’t even begin to take into account the many, many important accomplishments that take place in our schools and classrooms each and every day. A student grasping a new concept or skill or achieving something he or she has never done are equally, if not more important, than the highlights I have just described. I am exceedingly proud of our district for continuing to move forward in spite of ongoing fiscal challenges. The quality, dedication and professionalism of our staff and the tremendous support of our community have made this possible. We are truly blessed here in Kershaw County!

I’m always pleased to talk with community members about this topic or anything else concerning our schools. My direct dial phone number is 425-8916 and my email is  Citizens can also contact me through the “Ask the Super” link on the homepage of the district Website. I also invite folks to read my “blog” and listen to the podcast I record after each school board meeting with meeting highlights. Both of these, and a whole lot more, can be accessed at