School briefs for October 5th-11th

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Photo above: Beaufort Academy’s robotics team attended workshops that accompanied the release of the 2017-2018 FIRST Tech Challenge game recently at the Military Magnet School in North Charleston. The rookie team, made up of students in grades 7-12, was able to elevate a marshmallow 19.5 inches on a stable platform made from string, spaghetti and tape in a timed team-building exercise. Photo provided.

Make-up dates have been changed

Because of student testing at several schools on Saturday, Dec. 9, that cannot be rescheduled, the previously scheduled weather make-up day for all students is being moved back one week to Saturday, Dec. 16.  

This means that the Beaufort County School District’s two weather make-up days related to Tropical Storm Irma will now be Saturday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Dec. 16.

AP students earn free college credits

More than half of Beaufort County School District students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses in 2016-17 scored high enough on their final exams to earn free college credits, the College Board reported recently. 

Advanced Placement – and the accompanying College Board exams that demonstrate mastery of the course material – let students earn free college course credits while still in high school.  

Last school year, 54 percent of Beaufort County School District students taking AP exams scored 3 or better on the tests’ 5-point scale, qualifying them for college credit.  

That was down slightly from the previous year’s 55 percent, which was the district’s all-time high, but up significantly from 48 percent five years ago.

Across the district, 525 individual students scored high enough to earn college credits compared to 538 last year and 537 five years ago.  

The total number of exams taken was 1,480, up from 1,374 last year and down from 1,707 five years ago.

Superintendent Jeff Moss said that fewer students are taking AP courses because more are taking advantage of “dual enrollment” courses that also allow them to earn college credits while still in high school through partnerships with colleges and universities.

“Either way you look at it – whether it’s dual enrollment or AP courses – our students are setting higher standards for themselves, and that’s certainly encouraging,” Moss said.

Among Northern Beaufort County public high schools over the past five years:

• Battery Creek High: Thirty-one percent of students taking AP exams scored high enough for college credit in 2016-17, down from 43 percent the previous year and up from 13 percent five years ago.

• Beaufort High: Fifty-two percent scored high enough for college credit in 2017, compared to 49 percent the previous year and 55 percent five years ago.

• Whale Branch Early College High offers college courses through its partnership with the Technical College of the Lowcountry rather than offering AP courses through the College Board.

Students with autism to benefit from robots

Fifteen school districts across South Carolina, including Beaufort County, will implement the Milo robot and Robots4Autism curriculum beginning this October.

“I am excited about the opportunities that Milo and Robots4Autism curriculum bring to our students with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” said State Superintendent Molly Spearman.

“Through the use of this state-of-the art technology, we can provide intense support to the academic and social behavioral needs of a growing population of students in our state.”

Since 2011, the number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in South Carolina has nearly doubled from 4,000 to over 8,000 students in 2017. Recognizing the need to provide an evidence-based curriculum for students with ASD and the need to support educators, the Office of Special Education Services invested in Milo and through the use of federal funds will pilot the humanoid robot and curriculum in 15 districts for a three-year period.

Developed by RoboKind, a company based in Dallas, Milo teaches elementary and middle school students the understanding and meaning of emotions and expressions, and demonstrates appropriate social behavior and responses. 

Through interactions with Milo, students learn to tune in on emotions, express empathy, act more appropriately in social situations, self-motivate and generalize in the population.

Each robot can assist up to 15 individual students with ASD by providing a minimum of 60 minutes weekly of special education services related to behavior, pragmatic speech or social/emotional learning.

Information sessions set for Polaris Tech charter

Eight community and parent information sessions are set across Jasper County over the next six weeks to share details and how to apply to the Lowcountry’s newest state charter school, Polaris Tech.

The public sessions typically last about an hour and include an overview of the school, what makes it different, and how to apply starting in January.

Polaris Tech is scheduled to open in August 2018 as a free public charter school for up to 250 middle and high school students. As a state charter school, the Polaris Tech board of directors will be responsible for meeting state guidelines and accountability measures.

Most meetings have Spanish translation. 

Visit for times and locations.

Local students enroll; others study overseas

Joseph Crayton, of Beaufort, has enrolled as part of the Class of 2021 at Marietta College for the Fall 2017 semester.

Meanwhile, Michael Christian Bass, of Beaufort, is spending the semester in Switzerland. Bass is a member of the class of 2019.

Natalie Hudson Simkins, of Beaufort, is spending the semester in Barcelona, Spain. Simkins is also a member of the class of 2019.

State of the Schools to be held Nov. 1

The Beaufort Regional Chamber has rescheduled its annual State of the School event due to Tropical Storm Irma.

It will be held from 8-9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at Holiday Inn & Suites, 2225 Boundary St.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and the leaders from the area school systems will share information concerning education in Beaufort County and the impact on our community.

Speakers will include Spearman, Dr. Jeffrey Moss of the Beaufort County School District; Dr. Richard Gough, Technical College of the Lowcountry; and Dr. Al Panu, University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Guests will also hear from a panel of leaders representing the area’s private and charter schools including: Beaufort Academy, Bridges Preparatory School, Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, John Paul II High School, Lowcountry Montessori School, Riverview Charter School and St. Peter’s Catholic School.

The cost is $20 for chamber members; $25 for nonmembers; and $160 for a table of eight.

Contact LaNelle at

New admissions director named at BA

Becky Bekemeyer
Becky Bekemeyer

Becky Bekemeyer has been named director of admissions at Beaufort Academy.

Bekemeyer, a native of Beaufort, is a registered nurse and received her Associate Degree of Science in Nursing in 2001. She most recently has been a labor and delivery nurse for the past 11 years, but previously worked in adult and pediatric nursing for five years.

She has been married to Jonathan Bekemeyer for 15 years, a current lieutenant with the Lady’s Island-St Helena Fire District who also works for the Fripp Island Fire Department.

Bekemeyer is replacing MJ Simmons, the admissions director at BA for the past seven years. 

“I know Becky will take care of our wonderful current and future families of Beaufort Academy,” said Simmons. “Becky is a great fit for the position with her detail oriented skills, and her knowledge of our school. We hope you have the opportunity to come meet her in the front office in the near future.”

Contact Bekemeyer at at, 843-524-3393 or visit for more information.

Local students are attending The Citadel 

The Citadel is welcoming the Class of 2021, which includes the following local students:

Briona Gray, Matthew Hurtt, Jakob Marsh, Dianna Munford, Jacob Ramseur  and Kenneth Spurlock, all of Beaufort.

In other Citadel news, Nicolas Cucinotta, of Port Royal, was awarded Gold Stars by The Citadel for earning a grade point ratio of 3.7 or higher during the 2017 spring semester. Students that achieve Gold Star recognition are also placed on The Citadel’s Dean’s List.

Digital Corridor to offer game design class 

The Beaufort Digital Corridor is launching Game On, a code education program geared toward middle and high school students who would like to learn the practice of game design and development.

Game On will introduce students to the theory, tools and practice required to create their own games. The six-week course will be taught by Seth Konoza, a Games, Computer Graphics and Animation educator from Beaufort High School.

This course will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays from Oct. 14-Nov. 18 at the Beaufort Digital Corridor’s BASEcamp facility.