School briefs for April 27th-May 3rd

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Wheelan to deliver keynote at graduation

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan
Dr. Belle S. Wheelan

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, the first woman and first African-American president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, will deliver the keynote address at its 2017 commencement exercises at 6 p.m. Friday, April 28, on the Hilton Head Gateway Campus.  

Wheelan’s career in education spans more than 40 years and includes roles as college president and secretary of education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She was appointed by Virginia’s newly elected governor in 2001 to be secretary of education in his administration. 

She spent three and a half years in the position, handling a variety of education-related issues, before being named to lead the regional organization that accredits nearly 800 educational organizations throughout the South in 2005. She holds that post today.

In 2001, Wheelan was named one of Washington Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington D.C. In 2002, she received the Woman of Distinction Award presented by the American Association of University Women. In 2015, she earned the Dr. John Hope Franklin Award from Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.  

USCB will graduate 398 members of the Class of 2017. This is the largest graduating class in USCB’s history. Visit 

District finance staff earns national awards

Finance staffers from the Beaufort County School District have earned a pair of national awards for excellence from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

The first award, the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, recognized the school district’s 2016 annual financial report.  

It was the 27th consecutive year that the school district had earned the national recognition. 

GFOA said the award honors financial reports that demonstrate a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” and that clearly communicate a school district’s financial story and motivate citizens to read the annual report.  It said the award represents “the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.”

The second recognition, the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, honors government budgets that succeed simultaneously as policy documents, financial plans, operations guides and communications devices.  Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in all four of those categories – along with the 14 criteria in each one – to receive the award.

Superintendent Jeff Moss credited members of the finance staff for their “superlative efforts,” including Chief Finance and Operations Officer Tonya Crosby; Director of Internal Controls Reggie Murphy; Director of Finance Lori Mock; and Budget Analyst Louis Ackerman.  Moss also congratulated Phyllis White, who retired in December as the district’s chief finance and operations officer.

The school district’s bond ratings are Aa1 with Moody’s Investors Service and AA with Standard and Poor’s.   

BHS recognized as model program

The American School Counselor Association has announced that Beaufort High School is now a recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) school. 

The RAMP designation is awarded to schools that align with the criteria in the ASCA National Model and are committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment. 

“It has been a comprehensive effort that required a high level of participation on the part of every counselor in our department,” said Beaufort High counselor, Michelle Dixon. “Our work is purposeful and important. We truly believe our students are different because of what we do. It has been an extraordinary journey for our department.” 

Since the RAMP program’s inception, more than 700 schools have earned the designation. 

Beaufort High will be honored at a recognition ceremony at ASCA’s annual conference in Colorado in July.

Contract negations underway for Whale Branch gym

The Beaufort County board of education recently voted to proceed with contract negotiations with an architectural firm to design a competition gymnasium and performing arts center for Whale Branch Early College High School.

McMillan, Pazdan Smith Architecture – with offices in Greenville, Spartanburg, Charleston, Asheville, Charlotte and Atlanta – emerged as the top choice at the end of a multilayered selection process.  The firm has designed school facilities for 29 South Carolina districts, and school design comprises 65 percent of its work.

McMillan Pazdan Smith has been named among the nation’s top firms by Architect Magazine and has earned recognitions from the Council of Education Facility Planners in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011-2015.

The Beaufort County board of education voted Feb. 7 to build the competition gymnasium at Whale Branch Early College High and voted March 21 to build the school a performing arts center.  

Whale Branch is currently the only district high school that does not have a performing arts-style auditorium for student performances and classes, and is also the only district high school that doesn’t have a larger competition gym.  

Parents and community supporters had urged the district to build both a performing arts center and a competition gymnasium since the high school opened in 2010.

Local students are recognized

Shandy Simpson, of Beaufort, has been named to the Provost’s List at Troy University for Term 3 of the 2016/2017 academic year.

The Provost’s List honors full-time undergraduate students who are registered for at least 12 semester hours and who have a grade point average of at least 3.65.

At The Citadel, two local students were honored at the 2017 Joint ROTC Awards. They are Nicolas Cucinotta, of Port Royal; and Adam Hannah, of Beaufort.