School district earns top arts recognition

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The Beaufort County School District has won a 2014 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, the highest honor the state presents in the arts.

Established in 1972, the annual awards from the South Carolina Arts Commission recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. Beaufort’s award was this year’s only recognition in the education category.

“The Beaufort County School District has worked tirelessly to advance the arts within its Lowcountry community,” the arts commission said. “Student performances, exhibitions and artist residencies are regular features at all schools, and community performances are frequent field trips for school groups. High-quality, ongoing professional development is a priority for all teachers involved in the arts — not just those at schools with an arts focus.”

Three schools in the district — Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts, Lady’s Island Elementary School and Beaufort Middle School — are Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) sites.  A fourth, Lady’s Island Middle School, is working toward an ABC designation.

ABC schools integrate the arts throughout their curricula.  The project is cooperatively directed by the Arts Commission, the South Carolina Department of Education and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University.

“Beaufort County stretches over 500 square miles, yet everywhere you look the fingerprint of Beaufort County student artists is evident,” the arts commission said.  “Beaufort County is an arts-rich community eager to foster strong collaborations and support arts education in any way possible. Over the years, hundreds of students have been honored for their accomplishments in the arts.”

Arts Commission Chair Sarah Lynn Hayes said that South Carolina’s quality of life, education and economy are enhanced by people and organizations who dedicate their work and lives to the arts.  “The Verner Awards recognize that service of commitment and passion,” Hayes said.

“The excellence of our arts program is no secret here in Beaufort County, but it’s terrific to see that excellence recognized on a statewide level,” said Beaufort County School District Superintendent Jeff Moss. “The dedicated work of our school leaders and arts teachers is enriching the cultural life of our entire community.”