Hundreds of Beaufort County school supporters clapped and cheered in Columbia’s Koger Center for the Performing Arts last Tuesday as Beaufort Middle School and Hilton Head High School were announced as winners of 2012 Palmetto’s Finest Schools Awards.
With the double victory in the middle and high school categories, Beaufort County became only the third South Carolina district in the award’s 34-year history to have two winners in the same year, according to the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.
“To be the last schools left standing after such a long and rigorous statewide selection process is simply amazing,” said Superintendent Valerie Truesdale. “And to have not one, but two winners in the same year is extraordinary.”
The extensive judging process for Palmetto’s Finest includes evaluations by previous award winners and fellow educators who focus on student achievement, faculty training, program goals, teaching quality, office practices and community involvement. Awards are presented to two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.
Entrants in the Palmetto’s Finest competition submitted 20-page applications last fall and received on-site visits by independent review committees.
This was Beaufort Middle School’s second consecutive year as a finalist. A Red Carpet award winner, the school’s strong academic focus resulted in 24 Junior Scholars in 2011 and also 67 seventh-graders who qualified to participate in Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. The school also has a strong arts curriculum that has earned it designations as both a Distinguished Arts Program School and an Arts in the Basic Curriculum School. Beaufort Middle’s football and basketball teams both won Lowcountry championships in 2011.
Last week, Beaufort Middle also learned that it had received a Palmetto Silver Award from the South Carolina Department of Education — its second consecutive such recognition — for improving student achievement.