SMS Honors Chorus Places Second in State

posted Apr 30, 2018, 12:20 PM by Oconee Google

The Seneca Middle School Honors Chorus has proved once again why they are perennially considered one of the best choral programs in the state.  In April, the group traveled to Columbia to perform in the SC State Choral Performance Assessment.  Competing in the Advanced Choir Division, the highest division available, they received an overall rating of Superior with Distinction, the highest rating available.  Earning this rating means that they received a Superior rating in sight-reading.  Their performance scores of 98, 96 and 96 counted 80% and their sight-reading score of 97 contributed 20% to their overall total score of 96.73.  This score placed them second in the entire state while their sight-reading score of 97 was the highest in the state.  The chorus program at Seneca Middle School is directed by Mrs. Carla Brock who said of their performance, "These students are some of the most talented singers that I have had in my 20 years of teaching, but it is their dedication to hard work combined with their talent that helped them achieve at this level!  They are wonderful musicians and I am so proud of them."

WHS SIC named winner of 2018 Riley Award for SIC Excellence

posted Apr 16, 2018, 5:28 AM by Oconee Google

The School Improvement Council (SIC) of Walhalla High School has been named the recipient of the 2018 Dick and Tunky Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence.

The award was presented Saturday afternoon during the SC School Improvement Council (SC-SIC) Annual Meeting at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia.

The annual Riley Award for SIC Excellence was created in 2002 to highlight the significant contributions made to public education by the over 13,000 School Improvement Council members who volunteer in every public school in the state.  The award is named in honor of the former SC Governor and US Secretary of Education and his late wife, recognizing the couple's longstanding commitment to quality public education.

"Walhalla High SIC has done outstanding work well-deserving of this statewide honor," said SC-SIC Board of Trustees Chair Amelia B. McKie.  "Parents, educators, students, and community members working collaboratively on their School Improvement Councils are vital in making significant, positive, and lasting impact for our schools, our students, their families, and our communities."

Elementary School Track Races

posted Apr 10, 2018, 9:35 AM by Oconee Google

Elementary School Races for Students:

K-5th grades will be able to compete free by age in the following categories:

Girls:  100, 200, 300 and 400 meters
Boys:  100, 200, 300 and 400 meters

Ribbons will be awarded to all participants.  Races start at 4:30 pm, Friday, April 13, 2018 @ Seneca High School.  Gates open at 4:15 pm.  5th grade and under admitted FREE!  $5.00/person admission for all others.

Concessions will be open serving grilled and smoked hot food and snacks.

SMS Students Head Over Heels for Reading

posted Mar 27, 2018, 11:01 AM by Oconee Google

In this year of the virulent influenza virus outbreak where medical officials debated whether or not the illness had officially reached epidemic or pandemic levels, a school having 20% of its student body absent on a single day would be alarming.  Recently, however, over 20% of the entire Seneca Middle School student body was away from school for most of a school day and it was a cause of celebration not alarm - in this case because of an epidemic of reading.  Over 170 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students participated in the 2017-2018 South Carolina Junior Book Award (SCJBA) contest.  By reading at least three of the twenty nominated titles for the contest, these students earned the opportunity to go on a fun-filled field trip sponsored by the media center to Gravitopia (an indoor trampoline-filled play area) in Greenville followed by a tasty lunch at Golden Corral.  Media Specialist Sydney Jones said of the record number of participating students, "Each year we strive to get our students reading and although this trip is used to motivate them, we are confident that it also sparks their interests and fosters a genuine desire to continue reading for pleasure.  They and their ELA teachers who helped encourage them are to be commended for their record-setting performance.  I hope to exceed that number next year."

Unlike the influenza outbreak, this epidemic of reading is unlikely to wane.  The students have already begun checking out and reading the newly nominated titles for the 2018-2019 SCJBA contest.  Now that they have caught the bug of reading enjoyment, it is time to get ready for another record-setting year.

SMS Students Place in State Essay Contest

posted Mar 20, 2018, 10:42 AM by Oconee Google

Stereotypes begin at a young age and middle school students are not immune to its touch and influence.  Perhaps it is this experience that enabled two Seneca Middle School eighth grade students to write essays about stereotypes that earned them both recognition and prizes for their powerful work.  Brianne Argo and Ava Kelly recently attended the awards ceremony for the 8th annual Atlantic Institute Essay Contest at the Booker T. Washington Auditorium at the University of South Carolina.  This year's essay topic was "Looking Past Stereotypes:  Accepting Others in Today's World."  Argo wrote a fictional story and won 4th place in the state along with a $50 gift card.  Kelly wrote a first-person narrative essay and won 1st place in the state.  She was awarded a 7-day trip to Peru for her and her teacher, Mrs. Stephanie Necessary.

Necessary said of the contest, "I'm thankful for organizations like the Atlantic Institute that provide wonderful opportunities for our young people.  In today's age, it is so important to encourage our youth to think beyond themselves, to prepare to be the leaders of tomorrow, and to have opportunities like this to shine.  It takes a village to raise our children, and it is because of groups like the Atlantic Institute that we know the future of South Carolinian children are bright."  The Atlantic Institute is a non-profit organization that emphasizes the importance of education, dialogue and understanding in cross-cultural engagement.

Pictured from left to right:  Brianne Argo, Mrs. Stephanie Necessary, Ava Kelly

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,

1-10 of 90