Seneca Middle School Hosts Annual Veterans Day Observance

posted Nov 12, 2019, 6:49 AM by Oconee Google

Any school year is filled with events of all sorts.  At Seneca Middle School, one of the most revered events of the year is the observance of Veterans Day.  Each year students may invite the veteran(s) in their life to attend a reception and assembly in their honor.  This year approximately 60 veterans of all ages gathered in the Media Center to mingle and enjoy a morning snack before heading to the Tim Howard Gymnasium where they were greeted with a standing ovation from the assembled audience of students, faculty, and staff.  Upon being seated in places of honor, the visiting veterans were treated to excellent performances of patriotic music performed by the school's award-winning Honors songs during which the veterans stood to be recognized as their service branch's song was being played.  The program ended with each veteran being individually recognized and escorted out of the gym by the student(s) who invited them.

Inaugural Oconee Litter Bowl Competition

posted Oct 10, 2019, 5:01 AM by Oconee Google

Palmetto Pride Logo
On Monday, October 21st, the three School District of Oconee County High Schools will compete in the inaugural Litter Bowl Competition.  Sponsored by SDOC, Oconee County Sheriff's Office, and Palmetto Pride, the competition will see which school can pick up the most trash on the roads around their school.  The winning school will be awarded the Litter Bowl trophy on Friday, November 1st during halftime of their football game.

Participants are encouraged to wear light colored shirts or wear a safety vest over their clothes.  Safety vests will be provided that day.  Any student in grades 9-12 who wants to participate must sign up at their school, get a parent permission form and turn it in before participating.  Students may bring the form the day of the trash pick-up.  Students should report to their school by 8:15 am that day to get gloves and go over safety procedures.  Trash pick-up will occur from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm that day.  Parents are welcome to join students.

The Oconee County sheriff's Office will be providing safety support on the day of the event, with officers on site to slow traffic down in the pick-up areas.  Palmetto Pride, whose primary goal is to engage citizens to take responsibility for litter prevention, will award t-shirts to the winning high school.  In addition, they are providing trash bags, gloves, grabbers, and safety vests for this event.

For more information or questions, please contact Evie Hughes.

Oconee Schools receive Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards

posted Oct 7, 2019, 10:15 AM by Oconee Google

Ravenel Elementary awarded Gold; Walhalla Elementary and Walhalla High awarded Silver
Palmetto Gold and Silver Award

The Palmetto Gold and Silver Award Program, required by state law, is designed to "recognize and reward schools for academic achievement and for closing the achievement gap."  The awards go to schools attaining high levels of absolute performance, high rates of student growth, and for schools making substantial progress in closing the achievement gap.  In May 2019, the State Board of Education approved criteria for the Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards Program aligned to the new school report cards associated with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Awards for both 2018 and 2019 are being released together.

Elementary or middle schools must have one of the following rating combinations to receive a Palmetto Gold designation:
  • Excellent Academic Achievement and Excellent Student Progress
  • Excellent Academic Achievement and Good Student Progress
  • Good Academic Achievement and Excellent Student Progress
Elementary or middle schools must have one of the following rating combinations to receive a Palmetto Silver designation:
  • Average Academic Achievement and Excellent Student Progress
  • Good Academic Achievement and Good Student Progress
  • Excellent Academic Achievement and Average Student Progress
High schools must meet the following criteria:
  • Palmetto Gold - Excellent rating on 3 out of the 4 indicators and a minimum of Good on the fourth indicator with an overall report card rating of Average or above
  • Palmetto Silver - minimum rating of Good on 3 out of the 4 indicators and no rating lower than Average on the fourth indicator with an overall report card rating of Average or above
Dr. Thorsland commented, "We are certainly proud of the accomplishments of students and staff at these and all of our schools.  We hope to have even more award-winning schools next year."

Clemson EXPLORE Mobile Lab Builds Bridge to Seneca Middle School

posted Oct 3, 2019, 5:02 AM by Oconee Google

In education, there is a long tradition of learning from lectures and textbooks.  For some students, however, that isn't the most effective method for learning.  Fortunately, hands-on activities sometimes bridge the gap for those students, especially in STEM areas.  Recently, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, Lead Engineer for the Clemson EXPLORE Mobile Lab visited the eighth grade science classes of Dona Gardner and Dr. Katie Gillespie at Seneca Middle School to work with their students on an activity that was not only hands-on but literally about bridge building, too.  The activity began with Dr. Rodriguez telling the students about the main types of bridge design.  The students then formed groups to brainstorm the best miniature bridge they would design and build in a class out of a proscribed list of available materials.  The challenge, as in real life, was to develop a design which would both meet specific design criteria and be cost effective.  The students were very creative and came up with very different design ideas, modified their designs as necessary throughout the design/build/test process, and were quite invested in the final results of their efforts.

Dr. Gillespie commented about the experience, "This was the first year CU visited SMS with the mobile lab and it was a wonderful experience for our 8th graders.  Dr. Rodriguez was very enthusiastic and kept our students highly engaged.  Our science departments are very focuses and committed to STEM principles.  I think I can speak for all of SMS sciences that it is essential for our students to construct learning through hands-on and real-world experiences.  We tell our students that life is like the design process:  we question, we plan, we design, we construct, we evaluate and if it fails, we try again."

West-Oak High School Marching Warriors Compete in Band Competition

posted Oct 1, 2019, 6:15 AM by Oconee Google   [ updated Oct 1, 2019, 6:16 AM ]

The Marching Warriors attended the C. Phillip McIntyre Tournament of Bands Competition September 28, 2019, at Byrnes High School.  They competed in the Silver Division which consisted of 16 bands.  The Warriors walked away with 1st Place Division 2A, Best Percussion, Best Music and the title of Silver Grand Champion with the highest score in the Silver Division.  

Walhalla Elementary Celebrates International Literacy

posted Sep 12, 2019, 10:05 AM by Oconee Google

Walhalla Elementary celebrated International Literacy during the week of September 9-13, 2019.  The students were able to see traditional foods from India, Russia, Poland, Mexico, England and El Salvador on display.  They read the labels and talked about which items looked similar to what they normally eat and which ones looked very different.

Each day Mrs. Hartsock shared interesting facts about schools in other countries on the morning news show.  Ten guest readers came to school to read aloud to students in different languages.  Classes heard Portuguese, German, Spanish, Russian, French, and Gujarati (an Indian language).  Many of the stories shared were familiar stories like Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Miss Nelson is Missing.

All of the students, faculty and staff enjoyed learning about literacy in other countries and hearing other languages.      

Artist/Illustrator Visits Seneca Middle School

posted Sep 9, 2019, 12:31 PM by Oconee Google

Michael P. White, Artist and Illustrator
Quality education can take place in many ways and in many forms - some traditional and some not.  A recent guest to Seneca Middle School certainly facilitated art education in a most innovative, entertaining, and non-traditional way.  Artist and children's book illustrator Michael P. White worked with the school's media specialist, Sydney Jones, and art teacher Mara Diaz to introduce Diaz's art students to a different and fun way of approaching art and illustration through imagination and ideas inspired through stories.  The students knew they were in for a masterful class as soon s they entered the Media Center where they saw a dazzling display of a selected of White's completed artwork.  

White is best known for his illustrations for the books The Library Dragon, Return of the Library Dragon, The Secret of Old Zeb, and Harriet's Horrible Hair Day.  He is currently at work on his own book, Beau's Bayou Treasure.  He also produces original artwork available for purchase at galleries in the Atlanta area and online at his website

Girls Camp 2019

posted Jun 27, 2019, 4:45 AM by Oconee Google

The Girls Leadership Camp is sponsored by the Oconee County Sheriff's Office and the School District of Oconee County.  The purpose of the camp is to reach students at-risk for dropping out of school and help young ladies develop skills they would need to change some habits of the past and plot a more positive future.  Highlights of this year's camp are in the video below.

Girls Camp 2019

Boys Camp 2019

posted Jun 27, 2019, 4:35 AM by Oconee Google   [ updated Jun 27, 2019, 4:40 AM ]

The Boys Leadership Camp is sponsored by the Oconee County Sheriff's Office and the School District of Oconee County.  The purpose of the camp is to reach students at-risk for dropping out of school and help young men develop skills they would need to change some habits of the past and plot a more positive future.  Highlights of this year's camp are in the video below.

Boys Camp 2019

Sheriff's Newest K9 Named and Partner Announced

posted May 31, 2019, 12:34 PM by Oconee Google

Cam Hendrix, a fourth grade student at Westminster Elementary, was the winner of the "Name the Dog" contest sponsored by the Oconee County SC Sheriff's Foundation.  Cam chose the name "Thor" after his favorite character from the Avengers movies.  He was presented a cash prize of $100 from the Foundation.  The canine was brought to Westminster Elementary on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, to meet with the student who picked out his new name.

Deputy Justin Stokes, the canine's new handler, was also present to meet with Thor for the first time.  Deputy Stokes will be going through several weeks of training with Thor.  The Sheriff's Office is hoping to have Thor ready for service by late July.

The Foundation raised the funds through donations to purchase the explosives canine.  The Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization and contributions are tax deductible.  Currently, the Foundation is raising money to help Sheriff's Office employees further their education, purchase other canines, and fund an annual dinner to recognize achievements of the Sheriff's Office employees.  Donations may be made to the Foundation by contacting a board member or mailing the donations to the Oconee County SC Sheriff's Office Foundation, 415 South Pine Street, County Mail Room, Walhalla, SC  29691.

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