Awards Presented for Annual Tornado Safety Poster Contest

posted Mar 13, 2018, 7:56 AM by Oconee Google   [ updated Mar 13, 2018, 8:12 AM ]

Eliora Cobb, grade 4, Northside Elementary, was selected as the Grand Prize winner in the recent Tornado Poster Contest conducted by Oconee County Emergency Services.  In addition to a cash award of $50.00, Eliora also received a weather alert radio.

The purpose of the contest is to educate children on the dangers of tornadoes and make them aware of the protective actions that should be taken in the event of a tornado in their area.

First place winners received awards of $50.00 each and are as follows:
 Grade 1 Roland Richardson, Orchard Park Elementary
 Grade 2Destiny McDonald, Walhalla Elementary     
 Grade 3  Kenya Martinez, Northside Elementary
 Grade 4 Eliora Cobb, Northside Elementary
 Grade 5 Carissa Frizalone, Walhalla Elementary

Second place winners received awards of $35.00 each and are as follows:
 Grade 1 Hartley Campbell, Walhalla Elementary
 Grade 2 Audrey Metler, Northside Elementary
 Grade 3 Coby Wood, Tamassee-Salem Elementary
 Grade 4 Kylie Thompson, Orchard Park Elementary
 Grade 5 Ryleigh Gibson, Fair-Oak Elementary

The following students received honorable mentions and awards of $20.00 each:
 Grade 1 Leaha Montes, Orchard Park Elementary
 Grade 2 Belinda Garcia, Ravenel Elementary
 Grade 3 Savannah Weston, Orchard Park Elementary
 Grade 4 Ivy West, Northside Elementary
 Grade 5 Liam McMillan, Fair-Oak Elementary

The panel of judges included Libby Imbody, Melody Davis and Suzette Cross.  Libby is a graphic designer, visual artist and art educator working out of her art farm/studio, Walhalla Art Works, which also provides classes, camps, and private events for ages two through adult.  She studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design and taught elementary art at Keowee Elementary School for ten years.  

Melody is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She is fortunate to have studied art at such a prestigious and rigorous school as Carnegie Mellon University.  Since moving back to Salem, SC in 2009 she has volunteered at the Blue Ridge Arts Council and was the developer, instructor, and director of the Tribble Center for Disabled Adults Art Program in Seneca, SC.  She is also the founder and director of Gateway Arts Center in Westminster, SC.

Suzette has been involved with the Blue Ridge Arts Center for over 5 years and has been the President of the Board for 4 years.  She was very involved in the Outdoor Art Project in Seneca, SC.  She was also the chair of the Fine Arts and Crafts Show at Keowee Key for 3 years and taught in Michigan for grades 3-6 for 32 years.

The winning posters will be on display in the County Administrative Building until the middle of April.

Dr. Seuss on the Loose in Writing Class

posted Mar 9, 2018, 5:19 AM by Oconee Google

Dr. Seuss has long been known for his inventive use of language; indeed, even employing his own creative nonsense words to tell his universally loved stories.  Recently, in conjunction with Seuss's birthday, Mrs. Ashley Levesque at Seneca Middle School, embraced that creative spirit as she worked with her English/Language Arts students to identify and appreciate the writing styles of a variety of different poets starting with Seuss himself.  Her students worked in groups to read, identify and label various poetic writing conventions such as repetition, internal rhyme (rhythm), alliteration, end rhyme, uplifting theme, nonsense words and other literary devices such as tone, mood and intense characters.  The students enthusiastically dug into the assignment; for everyone loves Seuss, no matter their age.

As they move forward to other authors, the students will now have a most memorable foundation for evaluating differing writing styles and conventions.  According to Levesque, "The best lessons begin when students have some background knowledge on the content.  My students enjoyed the blast from the past while reading some of their favorite Dr. Seuss books.  More importantly, they were able to participate in meaningful discussion of characteristics of an author's style.  I've been able to refer back to this experience when talking about more complex styles such as those of Langston Hughes and William Shakespeare.  I hope this is a lesson students will reflect back on each time they study a new author!"

Pictured from left to right:  Titus Thompson, Cohl Harding, Layne Herron

Duo Wins Seneca Middle School Talent Show

posted Mar 6, 2018, 11:49 AM by Oconee Google

Recently, the Tim Howard Gymnasium at Seneca Middle School was filled with spectators watching students perform - a fairly common occurrence.  However, unlike most activities in the gym, these performances were not athletic in nature.  The school's annual talent show was held in the gym and those in attendance were treated to the amazing vocal and instrumental abilities of more than a dozen very musically gifted students.

In the end, a panel of judges had the tough job of narrowing the field to the top three acts.  Both the participants and the audience members alike waited anxiously for the winners to be announced.  In third place were singers Austin Mauldin and Kristen Brown who sweetly sang along to Austin's guitar accompaniment.  Luke Bleuel was then announced as the second place winner for his flawless and expressive violin solo.  Finally, Sophie St. James, who also played guitar, and Chloe Simmons were named as the first place winners for their inspired and captivating vocal number.  Orchestra teacher David Warlick who helped spearhead this year's show said, "When students get up on stage to perform I am always impressed.  It takes a lot of courage and it is great to see them amaze the audience and themselves."

Pictured from L to R:  Austin Mauldin, Kirsten Brown, Luke Bleuel, Sophie St. James, Chloe Simmons

HCC/WHS Student won 1st place in the SC All-Star Automotive Contest

posted Mar 5, 2018, 1:04 PM by Oconee Google

Hamilton Career Center Automotive Technology student Jeremy Welch, a senior at Walhalla High School, recently won 1st place in the South Carolina All-Star Automotive Contest held February 22, 2018 at Midlands Technical College.  Students were asked to diagnose and/or repair various automotive systems/components.  The preliminary round was an online test of automotive knowledge.  The top ten test scorers were invited to the hands-on final round at Midlands Tech,

Jeremy won a Snap-On tool box and a set of Snap-On tools as well as a Fluke digital meter.  Hamilton Career Center Automotive Technology instructor, Jeremy Davis, received a $5,000 check to use on program improvements.  The contest and awards were made possible by the South Carolina Transportation Education and Business Alliance which is a joint effort with the SC Department of Education, SC Auto Dealers Association and some SC technical colleges.

The Hamilton Career Center is the School District of Oconee County's career and technology center that houses several programs designed to give students the necessary technical and soft skills required to compete in today's global economy.  HCC director Chad Lusk stated, "We are proud of Jeremy and his accomplishment.  Winning first place at the All-Star Automotive Contest is something he and his teacher and classmates should be very proud of.  Jeremy has a bright future in the automotive industry and his participation in the automotive program here at HCC has no doubt prepared him for his next step after high school.  At HCC we encourage all of our programs to take place in competitions in order to prepare them for the competitiveness of the job market as well as to have networking opportunities with key industry partners.  Congratulations to Jeremy Welch and instructor Jeremy Davis on bringing home top honors!"

**Jeremy Welch and Instructor David are located in the middle of the picture

SDOC Future Chef Event 2018

posted Feb 28, 2018, 9:58 AM by Oconee Google

Future Chef Logo
While healthy eating can be a challenge for kids and parents, elementary school students in the School District of Oconee County will use their creativity and culinary skills to make healthy Asian-Inspired recipes in the 2018 "Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge."  The national initiative, now in its eighth, year was created to get students thinking about making healthy food choices while also encouraging them to be active and creative in the kitchen.  Over 100 elementary school students submitted healthy Asian-Inspired recipes and the ten best (one from each elementary school) were selected to participate in the district-wide finals event.  Finalists will prepare and present their creations before being assessed on criteria including originality, taste, kid friendliness and use of healthy ingredients.  Details are below:

                             WHEN:        Thursday, March 15th, 2018
                             WHERE:      Blue Ridge Elementary School
                             TIME:           Registration begins at 3:30 pm and the competition begins at 4:30 pm; Awards at 6:15 pm
                             CONTACT:  Scott Hood, 864-784-5053,

WHS named a finalist for the SC School Improvement Council's annual Dick and Tunky Riley Award

posted Feb 28, 2018, 5:45 AM by Oconee Google

School Improvement Council logo
Five South Carolina School Improvement Councils (SICs) have been named statewide 2018 award finalists for their accomplishments in parent and civic engagement within their school communities.

The SC School Improvement Council's annual Dick and Tunky Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence was created in 2002 to recognize the significant contributions made to public education by the nearly 14,000 local SIC members who volunteer in the state's 1,100-plus K-12 public schools.

In alphabetical order, this year's Riley Award finalists are:
  • Chapin Intermediate SIC (School District 5 of Lexington and Richland Counties)
  • Hilton Head Island High SIC (Beaufort County School District)
  • Saluda High SIC (Saluda County Schools)
  • South Florence High SIC (Florence County School District 1)
  • Walhalla High SIC (School District of Oconee County)
The winner of this year's Riley Award will be selected from this year's finalists by an independent panel of reviewers and announced during the 2018 SC-SIC Annual Meeting on Saturday, April 14, 2018, at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia.

The SC-SIC Riley Award for SIC Excellence is named in honor of former SC Governor and US Education Secretary Richard Riley and his late wife, Tunky, and recognizes the couple's longstanding commitment to quality public education.

SMS Student Advances to Regional Spelling Bee

posted Feb 26, 2018, 11:20 AM by Oconee Google

Tension filled the air as the competing students apprehensively awaited their turn.  One by one each participant in the Seneca Middle School Spelling Bee heard the announcer say their assigned word and then tried their best to spell it correctly so as to remain in the competition.  However, one by one the field was narrowed as the words grew ever more difficult.  In the end, seventh grader Luke Bleuel emerged victorious.  He will now move forward to the regional Scripps Spelling Bee in Anderson to compete against other school-level winners from Abbeville, Anderson, Greenville, Greenwood, Oconee, and Pickens counties.  The regional bee will be held on March 3rd in the Henderson Auditorium at Anderson University.  The winner of a regional bee will advance to the National Spelling Bee which will take place during the week of May 27 - June 1, 2018 in the Maryland Ballroom at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.  The runners-up to Bleuel were Kyrsten Carl and Olivia Sires.  Also competing were Gracie Grandi, Hailie Tedford, Yaira Johnson, Taylor Sires, Chloe Simmons, and Alyssa Crooks.

SMS Students Skype with Author/Illustrator

posted Feb 26, 2018, 11:12 AM by Oconee Google

The innocence and literalness of youth is a wondrous but fleeting thing.  For Matt Faulkner, those qualities of young children proved to be inspirational in the development of a children's booth he both authored and illustrated.  A Taste of Colored Water tells the story of segregation through the eyes of two small children who read the "Colored" sign above a water fountain in a totally innocent and literal way but soon learn the harsh realities of Jim Crow segregation.  Seneca Middle School teacher Cassondra Moore first read the book shortly after it was originally published almost ten years ago, but the moving story so captivated her that she still uses it to this day.  Although intended for a younger age group, Moore uses the brilliantly written and illustrated picture book with her seventh grade English/Language Arts classes as a discussion starter during Black History Month.

Recently, Moore tracked down the author and arranged an online Skype session between her students and Faulkner.  After hearing him ready the story aloud, the students learned how hearing an NPR radio interview while driving home planted a kernel of a story idea in his mind and how the idea festered within him over several years before he and his editor finally developed his initial idea into fully realized characters and the final storyline.  Following his comments, Moore's students asked wide-ranging and insightful questions.  Moore said of the session, "It was amazing to be able to use current-day technology to allow my small-town South Carolina students to 'meet' and pick the brain of a renowned author in California about his historically important story.  They were able to not only gain valuable insights into the story and its origins but also about the writing and publishing process."

WOMS Beta Club Service Project

posted Feb 8, 2018, 10:06 AM by Oconee Google

West-Oak Middle School Beta Club Members
The West-Oak Middle School Beta Club recently took part in a monthly service project by serving at the Golden Corner Food Pantry.  Students helped out by sorting food, organizing boxes, and restocking shelves and coolers.  The Beta Club has embarked on a monthly service project in the local communities.  They have participated in Keeping Oconee Beautiful, canned food drives for local food banks, and a diaper and wipe drive for Fostering Faithfully.  This is the second time that the Beta Club has served at the Golden Corner Food Pantry.  WOMS Beta Club advisors, Jason Ray and Amy Burgess, have put an emphasis on serving the community this year.  "We truly believe that giving students opportunities to serve others is how students build empathy and compassion for others," said Jason Ray.  WOMS Beta Club is currently hosting their February serving opportunity with Shoes 4 Water.  It is an organization that builds water wells in African communities.  Students and parents are encouraged to drop off used and old pairs of shoes in the bucket at WOMS through March 2nd.

                                       Pictured from left to right:  Memae Bennett, Amy Bennett, Makayla Byrd, Annie Adams, Leah Durham

Future Chef Event

posted Feb 2, 2018, 6:28 AM by Oconee Google

Future Chef

Students, can you cook?  Pick up your entry form today in the cafeteria or main office.  Sodexo is sponsoring the annual "Future Chefs" culinary competition.  The theme this year is 'Healthy Asian Fusion' recipes.  One lucky winner from each school will be chosen as finalists to compete in the Future Chef contest at Blue Ridge Elementary School on Thursday, March 15, 2018.  As an added bonus, the winner of this event will be entered into a National Competition for some great prizes.  

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