Considerate Café and Learning to Grow Gardens Win State Award

posted Jan 13, 2020, 10:42 AM by Oconee Google

The Hamilton Career Center Transition Program operates two school-based enterprises, the Considerate Café and the Learning to Grow Gardens.  The mission of these programs is to assist transition students to become contributing members of society through education in the areas of employability skills, independent living skills, social skills and self-determination.  Working in the school-based enterprises provide students with opportunities to practice the skills learned in the classroom in a simulated work environment.

These programs were jointly awarded the "Business of the Year" award by the SC Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Career Development and Transition at the annual Transition Alliance of South Carolina (TASC) state conference held in November 2019.  TASC's mission is "working together to increase successful post-secondary transition outcomes for youth with disabilities through active inter-agency collaboration."  The HCC Transition Program was one of only 5 schools in the upstate region selected to present at the conference as a model school-based enterprise.  Both the Considerate Café and Learning to Grow Gardens also had interactive booths at the conference where students interacted with conference attendees, explaining what each enterprise does, selling homemade items from the garden and café, and serving delicious samples at a "tasting table" - which was a huge hit with conference attendees.

Faculty and staff of the café and gardens, along with the 10th grade students in the classes that operate the café and gardens, received the award on behalf of the Transition Program.  Melissa Rosier, SDOC Transition Specialist; Marge Bright, SDOC Director of Special Education; and Dr. Sandra Sloan, SDOC School Board Member were also present at the awards presentation.  When asked about the award, Melissa Rosier said, "We did not know that we would be winning an award.  We were just happy to be there to promote all of the hard work that our faculty, staff and students do each week.  We are very proud to say that we have the only model in the state of a garden who supplies food to our café, and who has a café that is open to the public like we are."

Considerate Café is located in Hamilton Career Center and is open most Fridays during the school year from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm.  Weekly menus are available on the Considerate Café Facebook page.

Local Educator Wins Big in Big Game Contest

posted Dec 18, 2019, 10:07 AM by Oconee Google

This season's Clemson-University of South Carolina football game may have come and gone but the impact will last in a variety of ways.  The athletes and fans of the two schools will either continue to tout the win or bemoan the loss.  For Seneca Middle School English/Language Arts teacher Cassie Moore, however, the impact will likely take a completely different form.  Moore was one of many teachers in South Carolina who encouraged their students to participate in the Read Your Way to the Big Game Contest sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Education.  She was recently thrilled to learn she was one of just five educators statewide to win a $500 prize for that participation.  Being an enthusiastic lover of books herself and one who has a gift for inspiring a love of reading in her students, Moore undoubtedly has a plan for the prize money that involves books.  In fact, Moore said of her win, "I'm so glad that the Seneca Middle School media center promoted this event and supported all the students who participated.  It's wonderful to see that everyone knows how important it is to read.  The $500 will be used to buy class sets of novels so that all students can enjoy this generous gift."

Marching Band Members perform with Black Jacket Symphony

posted Nov 21, 2019, 11:29 AM by Oconee Google

The Walhalla Performing Arts Center was host to Black Jacket Symphony November 14th and 15th.  Known for re-creating entire albums by classic rock & roll performers, the group presented Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album in concert to full crowds both nights.  A few weeks before the show, the director of the WPAC, Mark Thompson, presented our band directors with an opportunity for students to play along with the group on the song "Tusk."  The original version by Fleetwood Mac, released in 1979, was performed with the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band.  Almost sixty students, representing all three high school marching bands, joined Black Jacket Symphony for the encore each night.

Westminster Elementary promotes "Kindness"

posted Nov 21, 2019, 11:24 AM by Oconee Google

This year at Westminster Elementary, the school has had a big focus on how to "BE KIND!"  As part of that initiative, the Westminster Elementary Student Council recently partnered with the West-Oak High School Student Council to work on collecting canned peaches for the Appalachian Christmas Project.  This project helps struggling families in Virginia communities with food, clothing and gifts during the holiday season.  Westminster Elementary collected 100 cans of peaches to donate to the project.  Students also wanted to spread kindness in their own community.  The school collected more than 200 cans of corn and 165 cans of green beans to donate to Dot's Kitchen in Westminster.  

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.      

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