Amanda Donald Selected as 2017 Pendleton Region CATE Career Specialist of the Year

posted Apr 24, 2017, 5:45 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Apr 24, 2017, 5:46 AM ]

Amanda Donald, Lead Career Counselor at the Hamilton Career Center, has been selected as the 2017 Pendleton Region CATE Career Specialist of the Year.

Her application will now be entered in the 2017 SC CATE Career Specialist of the Year competition which is judged by the SC Department of Education Career & Technology Education. The state winner will be recognized at the Education & Business Summit in June, 2017.

The SC CATE Career Specialist of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding career specialist who exemplifies outstanding achievement in building and delivering a high quality career development program serving career and technology students, faculty, and parents.

Seneca High School Spring Choral Concert

posted Apr 24, 2017, 5:33 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE

Mads.jpgThe Seneca High School Choral Department will present their annual Spring Concert on Sunday, April 30 at 3:00pm. The venue for the concert is Seneca Baptist Church on Hwy. 59 in Seneca. The program will feature the Women’s Chorus, Men’s Chorus, Honors Women’s Chorus, Honors Chorale and the Madrigal/Vocal Jazz Singers.

Highlights of the concert include the Women’s Chorus performing “Adiemus” from Songs of Sanctuary and the Men’s Chorus will be singing “Heading Home”.

The Honors Women’s Chorus and the Honors Chorale will present their State Choral Festival repertoire which includes repertoire entitled “Sure On This Shining Night” and “Flight Song”. The Honors Women’s Chorus will also perform ”If I Fell”, made famous by the Beatles and “Defying Gravity” from the popular music Wicked. The Honors Chorale will open their portion of the concert with “All Music Must Dance” and will close with “For Good” from the popular movie Wicked. All seniors will be recognized and honored.

The Madrigals will open the concert with “So What” made popular by P!nk . They will also perform all acapella vocal jazz selections including “Stitches”, “Hooked On a Feeling” and “Light in the Hallway”, written and performed by Pentatonix.

The Honors Chorale and Honors Women’s Chorus recently competed at the South Carolina State Choral Assessment. Both choirs received a “Superior With Distinction” rating, the highest rating earned at the state assessment event.

All choirs are under the direction of Ms. Diane McFarlane and accompanied by Mrs. Masheila Cobb, music faculty member at Seneca High School. Ms. Kellsey Vickers, Anderson University student intern, will also be assisting during the concert. Ms. Nanelle Cook, English teacher at Seneca High School, will provide the welcome.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the school at 886-4460.

West-Oak High Drama Class to Present Peter Pan

posted Apr 19, 2017, 12:02 PM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Apr 19, 2017, 12:04 PM ]

The  West-Oak High Drama class will present Peter Pan as their spring production on April 26-28 at 7:00 pm in the West-Oak High School auditorium.  Doors will open at 6:30 pm.  

J. M. Barrie’s story of Peter Pan’s never-ending childhood and his adventures on the mythical island of Neverland has delighted audiences for decades.

Admission is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for ages 6-18 and adults 65 and older. SDOC employees are free with show of employee identification card. The group will provide a special presentation for area elementary students on April 28.

The community is invited to attend this production to celebrate the success with our students as well as to support the arts in our schools. For more information, contact West-Oak High School at 864-886 ext 4530.  Click on the flyer for a larger image.

The Great Oconee Clean UP - Getting picky about litter

posted Apr 19, 2017, 11:01 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Apr 19, 2017, 11:14 AM ]

Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 22 to participate in The  Great Oconee Clean Up, 13200 Clemson Boulevard (NewSpring Church Parking Lot), Seneca.    Register for this event.  The first 200 registrants will receive a free t-shirt.  The event is sponsored by the Oconee Sheriff Department, SDOC, Keep Oconee Beautiful Association, and the Oconee Economic Alliance.  Click on the flyer for a larger image.

Schedule an Appointment for 4K (Pre-K) Screenings for the 2017-2018 School Year

posted Apr 5, 2017, 6:45 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE

SDOC will hold 4K (Pre-K) screenings on April 27, 28, & 29 and May 1 & 2.  To schedule a screening appointment for your child, please use the following links,  or call 864-886-4503.   (
Online form-English - Online form-Spanish) The 4K program is for children who will be four on or before September 1, 2017.   All screenings will be held at Oconee Academy, 177 Razorback Lane, Walhalla, SC  29691.
Please bring the following items with you to the assigned screening appointment: 
  • Child’s state issued (long form) birth certificate 
  • Child’s social security card 
  • Child’s Medicaid card or parent/guardian Proof of Income 
    (If your child does not receive Medicaid, proof of income for both parent(s)/guardian(s) will be required. This includes step-parents if they assume responsibility. Proof of income can be W2 forms, income tax forms, or pay stubs.) 
  • Driver’s license or identification card of parent(s)/guardian(s)
  • Proof of residency (a piece of mail with parent/guardian’s name and home address such as a utility bill or lease agreement; must be something that shows service to the home) 
  • Child’s immunization form or Religious Exemption Certificate (provided by the Health Department) 
  • Legal documentation as it pertains to the child (such as custody, court, safety plans, etc.), if applicable 
Due to the district’s limited number of 4K programs, screening does not ensure a child’s placement in a 4K program. However, a child cannot be placed in a 4K program unless he or she is screened. 

Children who meet eligibility requirements can attend 4K free, as long as space is available. If openings are available after all eligible children have been placed, there may be an option for fee-based students to attend 4K.

Northside Elementary Wins Regional JetToy Competition

posted Apr 3, 2017, 7:40 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Apr 4, 2017, 11:03 AM ]

For the second year in a row, a team from the School District of Oconee County has won the Regional JetToy Competition. Teams from five of our elementary schools have been engaged in school-level JetToy competitions. The district-level winning teams from Tamassee-Salem Elementary and Northside Elementary participated in the regional competition at Spearman Elementary in Piedmont.

The JetToy Challenge is a friendly competition where Engineering Design Teams of four students explore and test the performance of a vehicle they have designed and constructed. The teams then compete against each other in distance, accuracy, weight carrying and timed events.

Northside Elementary came away with the Regional title. Team members were Jalen Craig, Ben Nix, and teacher Megan Hightower.

A team from Keowee Elementary won the regional competition last year. SDOC was certainly represented well again this year. Congratulations, Northside Elementary!

Pictured above: Northside Elementary’s JetToy Team
L to R: Teacher-Megan Hightower, Jalen Craig, Principal Geoff Smith, and Ben Nix

WHS Junior Accepted into MedEx Academy at Greenville Hospital System

posted Mar 28, 2017, 11:23 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE

Madison Ranalli, a Walhalla High School junior and participant in the PLTW (Project Lead the Way) Biomedical Sciences program at Hamilton Career Center, was recently accepted into the Tier I MedEx Academy with the Greenville Hospital System (GHS). She is one of only 25 high school juniors accepted throughout the entire state of South Carolina. 

Madison will travel to GHS for four weeks this summer to explore health care topics through simulations, lectures, workshops, research and community service. Madison's goals include attending medical school one day and this experience will be an important step in that direction. 

The MedEx program was created by the Greenville Hospital System to address the critical shortage of health care professionals by creating a pipeline of promising high school and university students.

SHS Honors Chorale and Honors Women's Chorus Successful at State Choral Festival

posted Mar 28, 2017, 9:38 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE

The Seneca High School Honors Chorale and Honors Women’s Chorus earned a Superior With Distinction rating at South Carolina State Choral Performance Assessment in Columbia. Both choirs earned straight superiors from three collegiate adjudicators on the performance portion of the festival. Both choirs also earned a superior on the sight singing/music literacy portion of the festival which qualified them for the top award of Superior With Distinction.

This is the Honors Chorale’s twentieth performance at the South Carolina State Choral Festival. The Honors Women’s Chorus and Honors Chorale have received Superior Ratings in all of their appearances and this year, under the new rating system, received their first ever Superior With Distinction awards.

Seneca High named Palmetto's Finest Winner

posted Mar 22, 2017, 9:31 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Mar 22, 2017, 10:35 AM ]

Seneca High School Principal Cliff Roberts is a University of South Carolina graduate but he drew parallels from Clemson's national championship win earlier this year as his school was named for the second consecutive year as a finalist for the Palmetto's Finest award.

While Clemson finished second athletically for college football's top prize the previous year, Seneca High finished second in the state's top academic award. Roberts said the school was inspired by the manner in which the Tigers were able to overcome the disappointment of the previous year to win it all in January.

“It's easy to take a step back but they went back to the drawing board and did what it took,” Roberts said. “With our student body being 90 percent Clemson fans, we were able to draw that same parallel.

“Success breeds success and if you can become an organization that is that successful, you want to duplicate it.”

That inspiration and determination to further improve paid off handsomely Tuesday as Seneca High received the Palmetto's Finest award, winning over Dutch Fork High School. The award is given to the top two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school and was announced on a webcast from SCETV.

“This is something that's been 10 years in the making,” Roberts said afterward. “Ten years ago, we weren't a Palmetto's Finest school. There's been a lot of sweat equity and hard work from the entire community.”

When Cliff Roberts was named principal of Seneca High in the spring of 2008, he inherited, in his words “a unique situation.”

“There had been four principals in four years and my first graduating class had four principals,” Roberts said. “But we were able to find a core and get to where we were able to achieve this and for where our students deserved to be and our community deserved to be. This isn't just a Seneca High School award, it's a One Seneca award.”

Roberts said the first thing that enabled the school to achieve the award is the students, followed closely by the support given by parents and the community as a whole.

“Our diversity is our strength and we want to be that outlier,” Roberts said. “We've come real close in a lot of things but, today, these kids don't have to be second to anybody. They are the top high school in the state and I'm really happy for them. That's why you do this work and I couldn't be more proud of them.”

The Seneca High principal also credited the school district for supporting his efforts to bring in quality administrative staff – including assistant principal Felicia LeRoy – and teachers. LeRoy's father, Harry Hamilton, served as principal of the school for nearly three decades.

Roberts also said the One Seneca effort with Seneca High, Seneca Middle and the Seneca area elementary schools of Northside, Blue Ridge and Ravenel has also been a key contributor.

“We couldn't do what we do without support from our other Seneca principals,” Roberts said. “The fact we have everybody on the same page in doing what is best for kids is a great thing to be proud of.”

Oconee County District Superintendent Michael Thorsland said he is very excited for Seneca High.

“It's well deserved,” Thorsland said. “I am really proud of them and excited for the entire county. It brings a lot of recognition to our county.”

Seneca High is the first Oconee County school to win top honors in 16 years. Ravenel Elementary won Palmetto's Finest for the 1996-97 school year while James M. Brown won for 2000-01 and Walhalla Middle in 1986-87.

In Pickens County, Pickens Middle School is the last School District of Pickens County school to win (2001-02) while Morrison Elementary (now Clemson Elementary) also won in 1979-80.

“Hopefully, it won't be as long a wait for the next one,” Thorsland said. “We're glad Seneca High School forged their way here in recent history and we're just really excited about it.”

Thorsland said while the process for any school to achieve the prestigious award is difficult, it is one he feels is beneficial in the long run.

“It forces a school to look at what is going on and what they need to improve,” Thorsland said. “Whether a school receives a visit or wins or doesn't win, it's a good process to go through. It's made Seneca High School a good school and recognized for it in 2017.”

The South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) presents the awards each year to schools that offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs. The Palmetto's Finest Award is celebrating its 39th year and is one of the most coveted and respected awards among educators.

Last fall, 21 South Carolina schools submitted a 20-page application and received an on-site examination visit by a review committee. The finalists underwent a second on-site evaluation.

“Mrs. LeRoy headed this thing up for three years and the resolve and commitment she's made to this award has made all the difference in the world,” Roberts said.

Seneca High, with an enrollment of 970 students, was recognized for programs they offer that include Graduation Transition Services and for offering 21 Advanced Placement courses. The school was also recognized for winning Palmetto Gold the last two years and for being named among the Best Public High Schools in the nation in 2016 by U.S. News and World Report.

Oconee County School Board Chairman Andy Inabinet began his education career as a teacher at Seneca High School in 1969 under Harry Hamilton and stayed until 1974. Inabinet said he is proud of how the school went through the process the last two years and finally received recognition from the state for their achievements.

“We appreciate their hard work,” Inabinet said. “They have a good strong staff here with teachers and students and community spirit. It's long overdue and I could not be prouder of them. To get Cliff and Felicia has been an asset. He's really pulled it together, not just in this school but in the Seneca area with all Seneca principals working together and serving each other.”

Inabinet said his children attended Seneca schools from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.

“They'll be excited that their school won,” he said.

Roberts said the honor will forever be felt by the school.

“It's great for these kids to wear their pride – that we're the best school district in the state is something to be very proud of,” Roberts said.

submitted by Greg Oliver, The Journal

Awards Presented for Annual Tornado Safety Poster Contest

posted Mar 20, 2017, 5:41 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Mar 20, 2017, 5:44 AM ]

Emily Putman, grade 4, Walhalla Elementary, was selected as the Grand Prize winner in the recent School Tornado Poster Contest conducted by Oconee County Emergency Services.  In addition to a cash award of $45.00, Emily 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 $45.00 each and are as follows:
 Grade 1  Malachi Brooks, Fair-Oak Elementary
 Grade 2  Kendra McAlister, Keowee Elementary
 Grade 3  Mara Chappell, Walhalla Elementary
 Grade 4  Emily Putnam, Walhalla Elementary
 Grade 5  Toby Talbot, Fair-Oak Elementary
 Grade 6  Graceson Powell, West-Oak Middle

The following students received second place recognition and awards of $25.00 each:   
 Grade 1  Hannah Winchester, Walhalla Elementary
 Grade 2  Anna Kate Towe, Westminster Elementary
 Grade 3  Hannah Hendrix, Tamassee-Salem Elementary
 Grade 4  Kennedy Hamby, Tamassee-Salem Elementary
 Grade 5  Josh Hood, Westminster Elementary
 Grade 6  Makayla Wright, West-Oak Middle                         

In addition, the following students received honorable mentions and awards of $15.00 each:
 Grade 1  Madison Scroggs, Tamassee-Salem Elementary
 Grade 2  Avyn Hanvey, Ravenel Elementary
 Grade 3  Emily Owens, Tamassee-Salem Elementary
 Grade 4  Cheyenne Fowler, Westminster Elementary
 Grade 5  Lauren Vanemon, Fair-Oak Elementary
 Grade 6  Nicole Dobbs, West-Oak Middle

The panel of judges included Diane Bartlett and Rhea Fletcher.  Diane is a fused and stained glass artist.  Her art is exhibited in North and South Carolina art galleries and local art shows.  She has been working with glass for over thirty years and taught fused glass at Blue Ridge Arts Center.  She believes art should be fun and loves to see artist's enthusiastic with their work no matter the medium.  Rhea Fletcher is currently the head of Art Connection in Keowee Key.  Her work is in museums and private homes around the country.  She framed three of the patents which hang in the Smithsonian and one of her paintings is a part of the Pickens Museum.  She has owned a frame shop and worked in an art gallery.  During the last 17 years of her work life, she managed the framing department in a printing business and chose the artwork for hospitals and offices.

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

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