School briefs for March 30th-April 5th

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Photo above: The students who successfully completed Girls On the Run were MiAngel Berbeck, Cecilia Achodot-Oberu, Jamerrah Bellinger, Nyasia Billups, Zamaria Chaplin, Audiyah Gardner, Shakierra Gardner, Janiyah Lynard, Elliott Pence, Tyesha Smalls, Orika Clark, Justice Albury and Dermony Holmes. 

St. Peter's Catholic School student Harrison Thayer came in first place in the SCISA Regional Spelling Bee and second place in the State Spelling Bee.
St. Peter’s Catholic School student Harrison Thayer came in first place in the SCISA Regional Spelling Bee and second place in the State Spelling Bee.

Students participate in Girls On the Run

Lady’s Island Elementary School (LIES) recently participated in Girls On the Run, an after-school physical activity-based positive youth development program for girls. 

The girls are taught life skills through dynamic interactive lessons and running games. 

The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5K running event, which was held on March 18 at River Ridge Academy. 

The goal of this program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. 

The head coaches at LIES were Jalissa Newton, school counselor, and Ashley Walker, a first-grade teacher. Assistant coaches were Catherine Carroll, a kindergarten teacher, and Meredith Rocha and Rachel Grindle, both first-grade teachers. 

LIES plans to have two seasons next year because Girls on The Run was so much fun for the coaches and students.

Students to perform original play

Forty students will be performing in an original play entitled “The Lost Isle” at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 6, at Lady’s Island Elementary School. 

The play has been underwritten by an Excellence in Education Foundation Grant awarded to theater teacher Carol Dawson and dance teacher Lisa Teneyck. 

The play is a result of a student writing project known as “Page to Stage.”

Each Thursday after school, a group of 10 student writers in grades 2-5 met to create a story that could be produced as a viable children’s play. After five months of writing, rewriting and pitching ideas, the story evolved. 

These young writers are now seeing their play produced and watching their words come to life. 

“The Lost Isle” is about good versus evil in the character of Captain Max and his trusty dog, Salty. Along the way are many adventures that test Captain Max and his patience. Many creatures from the high seas and a deserted island give him just the perspective he needs to see the error of his ways. 

There is no admission cost, but donations of a canned good or dry good for the food bank will be collected at the door.

Veteran executive selected as CFO

A veteran finance manager has been named the Beaufort County School District’s new chief financial and operations officer. 

Tonya Crosby has been with the school district for 16 years and currently serves as its finance services officer.  

Her responsibilities in that role have included preparing the district’s $215 million annual budget, developing annual financial statements, supervising the district’s general accounting functions and training district and school-level staff in budget preparation.

As CFO, Crosby will direct the budgeting, accounting and reporting of all school district funds; take a lead role in long-term financial planning; direct the development of the district’s capital facilities plan; and be responsible for divisions such as technology and food services.

Superintendent Jeff Moss said that the school district has a “well-deserved and time-tested reputation for efficient business operations and prudent budgeting.”

Over the past 17 years, he noted that the district has never had a negative financial finding in any of its annual independent audits and has won numerous awards for excellence in financial reporting.  

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

“Continuing the district’s long tradition of financial and business excellence made this a very important hire,” Moss said, “and I’m confident that Ms. Crosby will be effective in her expanded responsibilities.”

Crosby, a graduate of Clemson University, is both a certified public accountant and a certified government finance officer. 

Crosby replaces Phyllis White, who retired in December.   

Performing arts center coming to Whale Branch

The Beaufort County board of education recently voted to devote a portion of its borrowing capacity to building a performing arts center at Whale Branch Early College High School.

Whale Branch is the only district high school that does not have a performing arts-style auditorium for student performances and classes. It 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.

The board voted on Feb. 7 to build a gym and recently voted to build the performing arts center.  

Both projects will be funded under a state-authorized provision that allows local school boards to borrow up to 8 percent of their districts’ assessed property value for facilities construction and improvement.

“Beyond the excitement this will certainly generate among our students, our staff and our surrounding community, the new instructional opportunities are wonderful and plentiful,” said Mona Lise Dickson, the high school’s principal. “We plan to make full use of those opportunities and enhance our kids’ educational experiences, not to mention their artistic and athletic experiences.”

Bus executive selected as transportation head

A veteran Aiken County school bus executive with a broad range of work experience – including three years behind the wheel – is the Beaufort County School District’s new director of transportation.

Maria McClure worked in various positions with Aiken County Schools over the last 31 years, starting off as a bus driver.  

After being promoted to transportation secretary and later to Area 1 transportation supervisor, she was named as Aiken County’s executive manager of transportation, a position she held for 13 years. She also performed driver exams for Commercial Driver’s License applicants.

“I’m excited to begin a new chapter in my transportation career, particularly working in such a beautiful place and with such welcoming people,” McClure said.

In her new job, McClure will supervise about 175 drivers and staff responsible for transporting more than 11,000 students to or from school each day on about 190 buses that travel more than 11,000 miles each day.

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