SMS Class puts Energy to Good Use

posted Sep 24, 2020, 5:56 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC

Parents everywhere know that 11 and 12 year-olds have plenty of energy.  Teachers are well aware of this fact, too.  Ironically, the 11 and 12 year-old sixth graders at Seneca Middle School are studying two different types of energy - potential and kinetic - along with quantitative and qualitative observation.  Thus, it was only fitting that their teacher, Bennett Carpenter, recently took them outside to use some of their kid energy to practice several different types of observation.  Not only were measurement instruments such as rulers in use but the children's senses were also used to take in and examine all that nature had to offer on a lovely fall day.  Carpenter said of the activity, "The best learning in my class occurs when students are completing hands-on inquiry assignments.  By letting students venture outside and choose what to measure and observe, they obtain a sense of responsibility for their own personal education."

(Pictured:  Sixth grader Lauren Chavis)

SDOC 2020-2021 School Year Enrollment Data

posted Sep 18, 2020, 5:44 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC

10,209 students enrolled Pre-K through 12th grade  

School District of Oconee County
The School District of Oconee County has enrolled 10,209 students in Pre-K through 12th grade to start the school year. This is a 4% decrease compared to the 2019-2020 school year.  

When asked about enrollment, Dr. Thorsland said, “Our district’s enrollment has been steady for more than twenty years, varying just a few hundred students over those years.  We anticipated a drop this year as parents considered other schooling options due to the virus.  Even with the 4% drop, we are still within the normal range we expect.”









































































Seneca Area




Walhalla Area




West Oak Area




All SDOC Students to Receive Free Meals

posted Sep 16, 2020, 6:20 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the governing body that oversees school meals. USDA has extended a waiver to allow all students, regardless of income level, to receive free breakfast and lunch during school.  This waiver is valid through December 31, 2020,
or until congressional appropriated funding runs out.  Free meals for all face-to-face students will begin Wednesday, September 16th. Please note that students can receive one breakfast and one lunch per day for free.  Any additional meals or a la carte items will be at regular price.  

The USDA waiver allows districts to refund the cost of student meals purchased between September 1st and September 16th. SDOC will credit each student’s account for meals purchased during this time. Students will not receive credit for a la carte items or for more than one breakfast or lunch purchased on the same day.  The credit process will occur over the next several weeks.

Because the waiver is set to expire at the end of the calendar year, we strongly encourage families to still complete an Application for Free & Reduced Lunch to be sure they can continue to receive free or reduced-price meals after the waiver expires. This is the only way to guarantee continued free meals or reduced price meals for those that qualify.

SDOC@Home Students

This waiver applies to SDOC@Home students as well.  Meals for SDOC@Home students are available for pick up each Thursday at the Bountyland Education Campus (former Hamilton Career Center) from 1:00pm - 3:00pm.  Students will receive five breakfasts and five lunches, for a total of 10 meals, in a grocery-style package. SDOC@Home meals must be pre-ordered by 12:00pm (noon) Monday to pick up on Thursday.  To pre-order, families may call (864)718-5147 and provide the student(s)’ name and home school.  More information on SDOC@Home meals is available under the “2020-2021 School Year Information” link on the district website.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

posted Sep 14, 2020, 12:16 PM by The School District of Oconee County, SC

Mental Health Resources

As a district we believe that mental health is important and are committed to support the social emotional well being of our students, families, and staff.   In an effort to support mental health and social emotional wellness of students and their families, SDOC has developed a resource page linked on our website.  This resource page includes school level contacts for each attendance area, community educational resources, and skill building resources.   

        SDOC Mental Health Resources

We value having a supportive school environment that helps all students learn and thrive.  To support the social emotional learning for students within the school day, SDOC has implemented many initiatives in the past several years including:

  • School-wide social emotional screenings 

  • Mental Health First Aid Training for faculty and staff

  • Adverse Childhood Experience Trainers in each school

  • Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools training  

  • School-wide social emotional learning curriculums

  • Suicide Prevention Awareness Community Events and Hike for Hope

Middle & High School Depression & Suicide Prevention Video Screenings

During the month of September, middle and high school students will be viewing age-appropriate videos focused on depression and suicide awareness. The videos are produced by Erika’s Lighthouse, a non-profit focused on educating and raising awareness about adolescent depression, encouraging good mental health and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues.  Links to the middle and high school videos are available on the SDOC Mental Health Resources webpage (linked above).

Suicide Prevention Awareness Community Events & Hike for Hope

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not hold our 2nd annual Hike for Hope and community events.  In lieu of these events, we encourage families to take a walk, hike or just spend time together to recognize suicide prevention awareness.  This link provides ideas for strengthening family relationships.

SMS 8th Grade moving to Distance Learning beginning Tuesday, September 15th

posted Sep 14, 2020, 11:43 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC   [ updated Sep 14, 2020, 11:44 AM ]

Seneca Middle School 8th grade moving to Distance Learning beginning Tuesday, September 15th 

Students will return to the school building on September 29th

School District of Oconee County
Due to a small cluster of COVID-19 cases within the 8th grade at Seneca Middle School, SDOC has made the decision to move Seneca Middle School 8th grade face-to-face students to distance learning for a period of 14 days beginning on Tuesday, September 15th. No 8th grade students will go to the school building during this time. Students will be able to return to the school building on September 29th unless under quarantine for another reason.  This decision was made in consultation with DHEC,  local medical personnel, district nursing supervisor, and Seneca Middle administration.

Face-to-Face students will transition to Distance Learning during this time. 

  • Students will receive instruction through Google Meets following their normal daily schedule beginning Tuesday, September 15th. These Google Meets will be recorded for those students without internet access.

  • Outside of Google Meets, teachers will communicate daily tasks, assessments, live meetings, student performance, and other instructional materials with families on a weekly basis through one of the school-level approved methods. 

  • Teachers will be available via email and should respond within 24 hours during the normal work week. They will continue to use Google Classroom for assignments and communication.

  • In order to support all students’ needs, 50% of instructional tasks will be downloadable for offline use. This would allow those students without the internet the ability to download a week’s worth of tasks at one time.

  • Attendance will be taken for all remote classes in PowerSchool, and participation is mandatory. Students must be in compliance with district and state attendance requirements.

We strongly encourage families to practice the following guidelines:

  • Students should STAY HOME and NOT CONGREGATE IN GROUPS for any reason.

  • Students will not be allowed to attend any school-sponsored events, including sports.

  • Students should be closely monitored for symptoms for COVID-19.  Please contact the school nurse with any new signs or symptoms or positive test result for COVID-19

SDOC Fall Athletic Ticket Information

posted Sep 11, 2020, 10:13 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC   [ updated Sep 11, 2020, 10:15 AM ]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, significant changes have been made to athletics.  It has required     changes to the number of spectators that will be allowed to attend, how ticketing for some sports will happen, and to the use of employee and senior passes. These changes may be implemented for winter and spring sports if needed. Please see the information below regarding the changes.

All Sports

No employee or Senior “Gold” passes will be accepted for admission.


Spectators will be limited based on seating availability at the event.

                                                 Seneca High School Logo       
Walhalla High School Razorbacks    West-Oak Warriors
Stadium: 877                    Stadium: 900                     Stadium: 520

                                                           Gym:  240                       Gym:  250                           Gym:  270


Varsity Football

  • No tickets will be sold at the gate on Friday nights.

  • Spectators must purchase two tickets or four ticket blocks.

  • Tickets will cost $7 each and will be purchased online through Hometown Ticketing, Inc.  A link to purchase tickets will be available the week of each game.

  • Children younger than the 9th grade must be accompanied by an adult throughout the entire game.

Detailed information, including guidelines for JV and middle school football, Volleyball, Golf, Tennis and Cross Country, is available from each school.  You can view the information at the links below:

Seneca High School  Athletics

Walhalla High School Athletics

West-Oak High School Athletics

District SAT Scores Surpass State and National Average

posted Sep 11, 2020, 8:19 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC

The CollegeBoard has released SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) data for the Class of 2020. This exam was taken by almost 28,000 seniors in the state of South Carolina during the 2019-2020 school year.   

The School District of Oconee County average score of 1050 surpassed the national average by 20 points and the state average by more than 30 points. The district had the 7th highest average total score among districts in South Carolina, a jump of 8 places over 2019.  The district total score increased 13 points in a year that saw a drop in both the state and national averages, as well as many district averages in South Carolina.  

When asked about the district’s performance, Dr. Thorsland replied, “We are excited to see our students perform well this year.  It certainly demonstrates that we are making progress toward the Board of Trustees goal of SDOC being a “top-ten district” in South Carolina.  However, as I’ve said in the past, it is difficult to compare schools and districts based on a test that is only taken by some students.  To have a truly fair comparison, you would need to include scores from all students.” 

The SAT consists of two subtests, math and evidenced-based reading and writing.  Students may complete an optional essay test, however it is not required by most colleges and universities. SAT scores range from 400 to 1600.  

SDOC eLearning Information

posted Sep 10, 2020, 11:10 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC

The SchoPicture of tablet, school itemsol District of Oconee County has been accepted as an “eLearning” district with the South Carolina Department of Education. For the 2020-2021 school year, when we would traditionally have to close due to inclement weather, students will be able to continue their lessons at home via eLearning. Students will have regular assigned classwork on eLearning days.  Teachers will hold “office hours” to answer questions and provide support. Students will be required to complete and submit all assignments during the eLearning days. These assignments will be due within five days of returning to school. 

To help students and families be prepared for inclement weather eLearning days, students will participate in “mock” eLearning days. There will be two in-school and one at-home practice days.  In-school practice will happen on September 17th and October 1st.  Students will have a full-day at home practice on October 16th.The SDOC eLearning Mock Day Guidelines will assist students and families in knowing what to do to prepare for a mock eLearning session, what is expected during a mock eLearning session, and what is expected after the mock eLearning session has concluded.  

SDOC eLearning Conversation
September 17th 6:00pm

We are asking families to view the SDOC eLearning Video in addition to the SDOC eLearning Home Expectations document. After viewing, families may submit questions using this form. The School District of Oconee County will then answer the submitted questions on Thursday, September 17th at 6pm through the district’s Facebook page as a live event. The recording will be made available on the district website. Please note that questions or comments submitted during the Facebook Live will not be addressed.

Every Student Succeeds Act Assessment Waiver

posted Sep 1, 2020, 7:01 AM by The School District of Oconee County, SC   [ updated Sep 1, 2020, 7:01 AM ]

SC Department of Education
The South Carolina Department of Education released an online survey for public input on the requested assessment waiver to the United States Department of Education.  As required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the SCDE must provide public notice and give an opportunity for public input on the waiver request.

The survey should take no more than five minutes to complete.  Results will not be individually shared.  Instead, the SCDE will combine all feedback for review and include summary information to the U.S. Department of Education.

You may participate in the survey by visiting the link below.

                                                  Every Student Succeeds Act Assessment Waiver Feedback Form

West-Oak Middle School welcomes new assistant principal

posted Aug 18, 2020, 12:09 PM by The School District of Oconee County, SC

At is meeting on Monday, August 17th, the School Board approved the hiring of Mr. Daniel Spencer as assistant principal at West-Oak Middle School for the 2020-2021 school year.  When asked about it, Dr. Thorsland said, "Daniel has been a strong asset in our district, both in the classroom and as a coach.  We look forward to working with him in this new leadership role".

Mr. Spencer, a Swansea, SC, native and Swansea High School graduate, will move from his current position as a science teacher at West-Oak Middle to join the administrative team.  Mr. Spencer holds a Bachelor's degree from Clemson University, where he was a Call Me MISTER, and a Master's degree from Arkansas State University.  Mr. Spencer has been teaching for eleven years, all with SDOC.  His experience includes teaching second, third, and fourth grade at Blue Ridge Elementary and sixth grade science at both Seneca and West-Oak Middle.  In addition to serving in the classroom, Mr. Spencer has coached middle school football, both girls and boys basketball at the junior varsity and varsity levels.  He and his wife, Amanda, who is an Oconee native, have been married for four years and have two children, son Oliver and daughter Corinne.

Mr. Spencer said, "I am beyond grateful to have been selected to work with this administration and staff to serve this school and community.  I will do everything within my power to grow leaders, not only for this community, but for the world."

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