Adult Education Program Recognized

posted by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated ]

Staff members from the School District of Oconee County were recently honored at the South Carolina Adult Education Awards Program in Columbia. The program is sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Oconee Adult Education received the following awards from the Department of Education at the Spring Institute:
  • The WorkKeys NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate) Award for Small Programs
  • The Post-Testing Percentage Award
  • Performance Measures Met-ESL Award 
The program also recognized Mr. Gene Williams, Program Director, and Ms. Veronica Main, ESL Coordinator and Instructor, who received recognition for 23 years of service to adult education.  Ms. Heather Spoon was also recognized for 10 years of service to adult education.

"To date, 473 students have entered through the doors of the Adult Education Program. We offer many options for students, including WorkKeys, High School Equivalency Diplomas (GEDs), High School Diplomas, Family Literacy, ESL/ESOL, and Literacy.  Over 160 students have already received some type of credential this school year.  I am proud of the awards our program received.  It is a testament to the quality staff and the motivated students we have here,"  said Mr. Williams.

Pictured above:  Veronica Main, ESL Coordinator & Instructor, and Gene Williams, Program Director

3rd Annual Chili Cook-off to the held at Walhalla Middle School on March 7th

posted Feb 16, 2017, 9:54 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Feb 16, 2017, 9:58 AM ]

The Walhalla Middle School PTO will host the 3rd Annual Chili Cook-off and Bingo Family Fun Night on March 7th from 6 to 7:30pm. Chili voting cards are 5 dollars and includes tasting for 15 chili entries. Bingo will be the game of the night with winners taking home great prizes. There will also be a silent auction with some amazing items up for bid. Pizza, drinks, and baked goods will be sold, too. Join us for the 3rd Annual Walhalla Middle School PTO Chili Cook-off… Tuesday, March 7th from 6-7:30.

(click on the flyer for a larger image)

Seneca Middle School Orchestra Program Gets “Loopy”

posted Feb 13, 2017, 6:53 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Feb 13, 2017, 6:54 AM ]

Middle school students typically think of orchestra instruments only in the context of classical music. However, the students at Seneca Middle School recently learned how limited that view truly is. The school’s orchestra program was privileged to have renowned Cellist Sharon Gerber as an artist in residence in their classroom for a week. She and the school’s Orchestra Director, David Warlick, embarked upon a “grand experiment” as she introduced the basics of arranging and sound creation through the use of “live looping” – all as a way to, as Gerber put it, “spark their minds and see the possibilities” by using modern electronics to marry the old and the new of classical and contemporary music.

Gerber began the week by teaching the students about the art of live looping - a method of recording and performing music - sometimes by a single performer or sometimes by a small group - by recording and building layers of music in front of an audience to create a performance full of sound and with the illusion of additional musicians. This technique uses a piece of equipment, appropriately called a looper, which records and then plays back the recorded tracks while the musician then plays along with it live. She explained and then demonstrated to the students that a good loop needs four underlying tracks – a rhythm line, a bass line, harmony, and textures (typically a high pitched sound(s) which cuts through the overall arrangement). Once all were recorded, she then accompanied the loop with the melody line – all of which created a full-bodied arrangement of music as if she had an ensemble group playing along with her.
She began this instruction with the traditional classical music associated with the stringed orchestra instruments these students are studying – the violin, viola, cello and double bass. Even though the students were immediately enthralled with this new process, she truly got them hooked as she included the popular music of the band Coldplay into the equation. The class period seemed far too short as they all experimented with the various elements, combinations and creative sparks that looping allows. Although the week came to a close all too quickly, the students were thrilled to share their new-found knowledge and skills with their peers as they put on a mini concert during two lunch periods on the final day. Their peers were equally enthralled. 

Gerber said about the goal of the week, “I love working with young people and really hope to spark their creativity and show them that there is no limit to the possibilities with classical instruments. I hoped to help channel their energy into something productive and explore the creative and healing power of music. The goal of a musician is to communicate through music. Adding technology just gives us more tools to communicate with.” 

Gerber is a perfect example of that philosophy. She is a classically-trained musician who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Cello Performance from Bob Jones University and the Berlin Conservatory of Music in Germany, respectively. In addition to working with students through the Artist in Residence program, she works as a freelance cellist who also does solo and studio work. As an example, she has recorded with the Chicago band Sleeping at Last whose music often appears on such television shows as Grey’s Anatomy and she has also composed the film scores for two recent documentaries – one about the holocaust and the other about an orphanage in Africa. In addition, she has also recorded four CDs of her own original compositions and arrangements for cello and piano. She has also studied, taught and performed music in Europe, Canada and throughout the United States. With that resume and breadth of experience, she certainly has found a variety of ways to communicate through music and thankfully she has found the perfect way to pass that passion for musical creativity on to the students she touches.

SHS Athletic Signs Letter of Intent to Play for SC State University

posted Feb 2, 2017, 7:43 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Feb 2, 2017, 7:45 AM ]

Seneca High School’s own Jacory Benson signed his National Letter of Intent to play football on Wednesday. Jacory announced to the crowd of friends and family in the media center at Seneca High School he will be playing at South Carolina State University in the fall.

Jacory spoke to the crowd and thanked many individuals who have poured into his life and made him the man he is today. Jacory’s mother, father, step-mother, and brother all joined him at the table as he signed his letter today. Coach Capps told the crowd, “Jacory is an outstanding young man and is a fantastic athlete. He makes those around him a better player. He has a heart of a champion. South Carolina State is getting an outstanding individual that will be a great asset to their program.”

SDOC School Choice for 2017-18

posted Feb 1, 2017, 10:24 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Feb 1, 2017, 10:24 AM ]

School Choice for the 2017-2018 school year is now open and will remain open until June 1st. If you would like for your child to attend a school that is outside of the attendance area in which you live, you must complete a school choice form. If possible, please use the online form that can be found on the link below.  If you are unable to complete the online form, a paper copy may be obtained in the school office. School choice forms are required annually even if your child is currently on school choice. Contact the school office for any questions.

The following are highlights of the SDOC school choice policy:

  • Only students that reside in Oconee County are eligible for choice.
  • Transportation to a “choice school” is the responsibility of the parents/guardians (no bus service will be provided).
  • Students on school choice must submit an application each year.
  • Principals will consider behavior, attendance, and grades before approving applications.
  • The completed application is due to the choice school on Thursday, June 1st.
  • If more applications are received than the number of spaces available at any school, a lottery system will be used to fill spaces. 
The school district reserves the right to limit school choice enrollment by grade level or program as staffing or funding requires. Choice may also be limited by classroom space in the school(s).

SDOC Accepting Applications for the NOW Program

posted Jan 26, 2017, 7:44 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Jan 26, 2017, 8:12 AM ]

NOW program participants visiting Just Aircraft
The Hamilton Career Center and SDOC partnered with local businesses this year to provide an innovative work experience program to students in the district’s new NOW program. (Nurturing Our Workforce)  The program just finished its first year and is excited to open the program to rising juniors for 2017-2018.

NOW participants attend industry tours that provide hands-on experiences in a real work setting, and are often offered paid internships, co-ops and apprenticeships. These students meet every month with industry leaders in small groups and will receive preferential consideration for long-term employment after high school or post-secondary training/education.

To be eligible to participate in the program, students must attend Hamilton Career Center in one of the manufacturing related programs (Welding, Building Construction, PLTW Engineering, Mechatronics, Machine Technology, Automotive Technology or Mechanical/Architectural Design). Applicants must also be in good academic, attendance and discipline standing with the district.

To join this elite group, rising juniors should work with counselors at registration to select Hamilton Career Center courses and the NOW Program. For more information, ask a guidance counselor or call 864-886-4425.

T & R Graphics Host the Graphic Communications Classes from Hamilton Career Center

posted Jan 25, 2017, 6:40 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Jan 25, 2017, 6:40 AM ]

The Graphic Communications classes of the Fred P. Hamilton Career Center recently visited T & R Graphics, located in Seneca.  Owner, Ray Murphy, demonstrated the screen-printing process on a manual and an automatic press. Students learned about the technique of preparing screens along with the proper techniques of porous printing, including how to pull the squeegee and how certain angles affect the print process.

Mr. Matt Morton demonstrated the car wrapping process on an ambulance for the Greenville Health System. During the demonstration, students learned about the properties of vinyl, the correct installation method, and the benefits of wrapping a vehicle. Students were also excited to learn that some of NASCAR’s biggest drivers and racing teams use T & R Graphics for their race cars.

With an aim to go beyond academics, industrial visits provide students a practical perspective on the world of work. It provides students with an opportunity to learn practically through interaction, working methods and employment practices.  Many HCC students will be involved in paid internships during the second year of their program.

The Hamilton Career Center is thankful for local partnerships with business and industry, like T & R Graphics, that both strengthen the School District of Oconee County and business and industries throughout our county.

SHS Named Palmetto's Finest Finalist Two Years in a Row

posted Jan 19, 2017, 7:24 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE

Seneca High School was recently notified that the school has been named a Palmetto’s Finest Finalist for the 2016-17 school year. This is the second year in a row the school has received this distinction.

“To be a Palmetto's Finest Finalist for the second consecutive year is a testament to our outstanding students as well as our dedicated faculty, staff, and community. This award is not just about Seneca High, it is a reflection of the entire One Seneca family,” said Cliff Roberts, school principal.

After extensive evaluations by fellow educators and previous Palmetto’s Finest winners, nine South Carolina schools were named finalists for the 2017 Palmetto’s Finest Schools Awards. The application process included elements on student achievement, instructional programs,
professional learning communities, and school culture.

Last fall, 21 South Carolina schools submitted a 20-page application and received an onsite examination visit by a review committee. The nine finalists are now undergoing a second onsite evaluation.  On March 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm, the final award will be presented remotely from SC ETV.  Finalists will watch the announcement from their schools via live streaming. All finalists receive statewide recognition and a plaque.

The SC 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.

SMS Science Lesson Reaches Unprecedented Heights

posted Jan 18, 2017, 7:59 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Jan 18, 2017, 8:03 AM ]

Seneca residents, if you should find a large piece or two of colored tissue paper in your yard know that it is a result of a science experiment that went extremely well. Recently the cold temperatures following the snow storm provided the perfect opportunity for a research project conducted by the seventh grade science classes at Seneca Middle School.

The project was a culmination of in-class lectures about the principles of air density. To further investigate the principles learned, groups of students built homemade air balloons out of panels of colorful tissue paper. They then gathered outside in the below freezing temperatures to launch the balloons.

Teachers Deborah Belflower and Eddie Chavis supervised the burner, fueled by small tanks of propane gas, which inserted the hot air into the balloons. Once fully inflated, the balloons were released and the students were able to see the principle of air density in action. The balloons rose higher and higher as the hot air encountered colder and colder layers of air. In fact, for the first time in several years of conducting this experiment, several of the balloons were so successfully constructed they soared far beyond the school grounds and the immediate neighborhoods.

Both the students and teachers were amazed with the results. Indeed, Belfower asks, “If you should find any of the balloons, we would really appreciate it if you contact the school so the kids can get an appreciation of just how well their air density lessons and attention to detail in the construction of the balloons paid off.” Contact the school at (864)886-4455 or email the teachers directly at or

Appointments to Schedule 4K (Pre-K) Screenings for the 2017-2018 School Year to Begin on February 1

posted Jan 10, 2017, 11:13 AM by Deb WICKLIFFE   [ updated Jan 18, 2017, 8:01 AM ]

SDOC will hold 4K (Pre-K) screenings on April 27, 28, & 29 and May 1 & 2.  Appointments to schedule a screening for your child will begin on February 1, 2017 and can be obtained by going online at or by calling 864-886-4503.   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.

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