Stone Martin earns prestigious scholarships

ALO piano student excels in competitions

Stone Martin

Stone Martin

Hartsville High School junior Stone Martin is receiving some of the most prestigious accolades an 11th grader can achieve. In March, he won the Pee Dee District South Carolina Federation of Music Clubs (SCFMC) auditions, where he successfully competed against winners of other state districts. Most recently, he earned two scholarships--the Josephine B. Davis Piano Scholarship and the Elizabeth Crudup Lee Scholarship--from SCFMC that will enable him to attend Brevard Music Center (BMC) this summer.

Now in its 80th year, the BMC is a summer home for young musicians. Located in Brevard, N.C., on 180 acres, the institute is nestled in lush mountain terrain. Four hundred students from across the country enroll to study their musical passion. The center has two divisions in music, one for high school students and one for college students and older. The high school division enrolls approximately 180 students from ages 14-18. Programs of study include orchestral studies, piano, composition and voice. 

As a student in the piano program, Martin will take weekly private lessons, as well as classes in piano literature, performance practice and more. In addition to having practice time, he will participate in weekly studio and master classes with faculty and guest artists and rehearse with world-renowned concert soloists. Students at BMC also have the opportunity to attend a variety of orchestra, chamber, and opera performances at the center.

In addition to his studies at Hartsville High School, Martin is enrolled in the Accelerated Learning Opportunities program (ALO) at Coker, which is part of the Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence (PULSE) program. He currently studies piano with Dr. Ryan Smith, assistant professor of music and director of the summer piano institute at Coker College. Dr. Smith is also an instructor with the PULSE program. 

“Stone was introduced to the PULSE program and he is thriving,” says Smith. "Just two years ago, this student didn't read music when he began. By the end of the semester, he was playing at the level of someone who had studied for several years."

Smith continued by saying that Martin passion for the piano is evident in playing. "After enrolling in Applied Piano, he is now playing at the college level or better."

Archie Torain earns superior rating in vocal competition

ALO student advances to NATS state battle

Archie Torain.

Archie Torain.

Hartsville High School (HHS) sophomore Archie Torain received a superior rating at the Mid-Atlantic region's National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition. The win enables him to compete at the state level, and advanced to the national preliminaries with another victory, placing in the top 5 out of hundreds of competitors. 

NATS is an organization that promotes singing through competitions and programs that showcase talented singers and performers. Top performers in each region compete against other top artists from around the country. Students of NATS members start the process by performing during regional auditions. Three singers from each regional category advance to a national online screening round, where entrants will submit a video of their performances for adjudication by a panel of national judges. 

Torain is a student at Coker College through the PULSE Accelerated Learning Opportunies (ALO) program, studying voice with Lee Ousley. At high school, he is a member of the Advanced Honors Choir and the HHS Singers. He also studies with Dr. James Beaumier, HHS choral teacher. At the competition, Kim Roberts, Hartsville Middle School magnet chorus teacher, served as Torain's accompaniest. 

Dr. Serena Hill La-Roche, Coker PULSE facilitator, said, "Archie’s voice instructor and I are thrilled with the vocal progress he is making, and are proud that he has a chance to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity for growth and self-discovery."

ALO engineering students visit Sonoco's biomass boiler

Putting classroom activity into real-world experience

Seven Hartsville High School students in PULSE Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) engineering and AP Calculus classes finished the 2014-15 school year with a visit to Sonoco's biomass boiler facility. The $75 million boiler was part of a $100 million investment in the company's Hartsville, S.C., complex.  

Sonoco engineer David Rhodes, who was one of 15 guest speakers to visit the ALO engineering class, organized the trip and gave the students an inside look at the boiler, which is fueled mostly by woody material from regional logging, but can also run on natural gas. Touted as a technological advancement that helps business grow and succeed, the boiler can produce 16 megawatts of green energy and steam, both of which are used at the Hartsville complex.

ALO instructor, Dr. Jerome Reyes, explained that the trip to Sonoco allowed students to reflect on what they learned about engineering throughout the year, and see it in action firsthand. "Touring Sonoco's facility and conversing with multiple engineers about high level concepts like design and construction, to engineering details such as power efficiency ratings and dimensional analysis suddenly made everything we've done all year real for our students."

Engineering student Christopher Rhodes noted, “The trip was invaluable. It allowed me to experience real applications of an engineering degree. I was able to see what an engineering job setting could look like, and it gave me a new respect for everything we discussed in class.”

Similarly impressed was engineering student Rubaiya Anika. She was suprised to learn that such sophisticated engineering facilities and related job opportunities were available in the small town of Hartsville. "I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet engineers and ask them questions," she said. "I now have a newfound desire to embrace our community more.”

After the tour, Sarah Smith, a freshman engineering student, commented, “Seeing the company, and talking to the engineers that work there, has made an impact on the career path I’ll likely take.” She was decidedly impressed by the design and operation of the biomass machinery. Smith added that she wants to pursue future opportunities for an internship at Sonoco based on her experiences at the company.

Dr. Reyes said one of the most rewarding aspects of the field trip was listening to the engineering students have intelligent conversations with the engineers on site. "This is what the PULSE ALO program is all about. We are offering students the opportunity to enhance regular academic requirements with challenging, thought-provoking course work. Their reaction after the trip to the biomass boiler clearly illustrated how far the students had come since the start of class in August."

Reyes added that the trip left the students with one resounding message: as much as they learned about engineering this year, they realize they have only scratched the surface. "Opportunities like these combined with a genuine thirst for knowledge will catapult these students to successful careers in engineering," he said.

Students share ALO experiences

Details on year 3 challenges and opportunities

ALO classes are rigorous and challenging. Students from a variety of classes share their experiences and offer insights for other students considering ALO courses. Courses include AP Computer Science, Molecular Biology, Advanced Chemistry, andAP Calculus.

AP Computer Science (first year taught)

"I thought the class was extremely informative and it was fun to learn programming. Dr. Dostert was extremely helpful in teaching us while we were programming and tried hard to get us to learn. The course itself was extremely challenging and rewarding. My expectations were exceeded as far as what I hoped to learn in the class."

"I found the class very fun, exciting, informational, and interactive. Dr. Dostert's teaching ability helped us be confident in asking for assistance, but didn't let us depend on him too much. He was also very good at helping me fully understand most of the material. However, I think a more selective group of students will help this class a lot. Students can really take a lot of information away from the class, just as long as there aren't many distractions. But in the end, it was challenging and I looked forward to it every day. Our end of the year project also combined everything that we have learned throughout the year so we had to recall and use what we have learned in different, more difficult ways."

Molecular Biology

"I feel better prepared for college as a result of the teaching style, expectations and course work. I felt challenged to always do my best work, pay attention and participate in the class discussion. Dr. Flaherty was prepared to lecture and address any of our questions. He went above and beyond to make sure we were learning each day of class, and established a relationship with each student and encouraged the learning process. This PULSE class was more effective than any other high school class I have taken. 

"[This class] prepares me for a college class. The teacher treated us like adults, [and the course] better prepared me for taking notes in college. [This class] needs to be encouraged more to other students."

"This class has taught me useful information not only about molecular biology but also numerous life and college skills. Students who plan to take this PULSE course should be prepared to be challenged in every way possible. Be prepared to work! The teacher establishes a good relationship to the students and learning is individualized when needed. Questions are highly encouraged to help the students with their understanding of what is being taught. The social (Twitter) aspect of the course was a new and interesting way to acquire more scientific information. Taking good notes, having good listening skills and paying attention to what is taught and said will greatly help the advancement within the class. Posting grades could be a possibility so that the students can know what their grade in the class is, and so that they know what they need to improve on. Overall Molecular Biology is a great course to take especially when pursuing a career in the field of science."

Advanced Chemistry

"The course was much more understandable to me than my first year of chem honors. The teacher was very thorough with his notes and explanations. I enjoyed having a teacher that you could see the enjoyment of teaching the subject. The fact he used only notes for examples but gave us notes from his memory of teaching the subject so long and from having such a true understanding of the subject."

"I absolutely loved being in the PULSE advanced chemistry class. The teacher was fabulous, understanding with the students, and cared for the students and their understanding of the topic. The choice of taking Advanced Chemistry through the PULSE program will forever be a good decision. I will take all of what I did in this class with me to, through, and past college. I loved this course and would recommend it to anyone interested."  

"I thoroughly enjoyed taking AP Chemistry through the PULSE Program. It was a very interesting class. We were actually able to participate in interesting lab assignments and were treated fairly. The material was challenging but we were always prepared for tests and exams. The access to AP text and workbooks was a nice addition to our studying. Being able to take the AP Exam gave incentive to take the class and pay attention. Teaching methods were successful and interactive labs were too. I wouldn't change any teaching practices for next year; especially the College Level Grading Scale."

AP Calculus

"AP Calculus has been an adventure this year. While it has been extremely hard, it has been very useful in that I have learned an abundance of information. This class has made me work hard, and I feel like everything that we have done was very calculated and efficient. There are not many things I could say for improvement, other than not as much homework (no, the amount of homework was really not that much). But really, I truly, genuinely can say that this class was done near to perfect, and I have learned so much. "

"This Calculus class has been extremely beneficial to me this year. I would not change any part of it. Dr. Reyes adequately prepared us for the AP exam and pushed us to learn and to succeed. It was difficult and took a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. I learned so much this year and if I could go back I would not wish for it to have been any different. I am thankful I was given this opportunity and I feel that it has helped me greatly as I prepare to go to college in the fall."

ALO students perform in Coker College recital

Hartsville High School students Sarah Floyd, Nicole Hyman and Alex Morrison presented a recital of songs at Coker College on Sunday, February 23. The performance was the culmination of training received through the ALO program of the Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence (PULSE) initiative. The performance included selections in contrasting styles and periods ranging from classical to modern. All music was sung from memory and highlighted foreign language skills. Floyd, Hyman and Morrison have been enrolled in the ALO program since its inception in 2011.

Encouraged at an early age by the church organist, soprano Sarah Floyd knew she wanted to pursue music. She performed a range of works including “Va Godendo” by Handel, “Jazz Man” by Britten, and “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” by Frederick Loewe from Camelot. However, it was the Schubert, “Liebhaber in allen Gestalten” that her voice shone in its clear tones and German phrasing. She will be attending Coker College in the fall of 2014 to pursue a major in music.

Tenor Alex Morrison showed his versatility through compositions by Benjamin Britten, Henry Purcell, Gabriel Faure` and Stephen Foster. His performance of “Kansas City” by Richard Rodgers from Oklahoma showed off his vocal and acting skills. Morrison says, “I liked my music classes because they made me feel good the better I got. I feel like I accomplished something. Now I want to teach others so they will enjoy music.” Morrison plans to major in music education when he graduates this year.

Soprano Nicole Hyman auditioned for the ALO program after becoming involved in community and school theatre. She says, “The courses took discipline. It was more work than I thought. I really respect what singers do after taking these courses.” Hyman opened her performance with Scarlatti’s “Se Florindo `e fedele.” Hyman and Floyd completed the recital with a lively duet as Galinda and Elphaba in “What is this Feeling” by Stephen Schwartz from Wicked.

HHS student excels in music through ALO program

Sarah Floyd earns scholarship from Sandlapper Singers

Sarah Floyd

Sarah Floyd

When given the opportunity to study voice at Coker College in 2011, Hartsville High School student Sarah Floyd jumped on board, and hasn't looked back since. The class was made possible through the Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) offered by the PULSE program. 

The learning (or singing) has paid off for Floyd. She was recently awarded the Katie Quackenbush Scholarship from the Sandlapper Singers. This prestigious group is considered to be South Carolina's premier professional choral ensemble, with a stated mission "to present American choral music in a uniquely entertaining, inspiring, and engaging style and to provide educational opportunities for young singers."

Floyd was one of the first students to enroll in ALO classes, and she readily accepts the challenges to be successful. She is a member of the choir and advanced choir, as well as a senior enrolled in the International Bacculaureate program at HHS. She has earned numerous awards, including a superior rating at last year's state-wide NATS competition where she competed against some of the best students in South Carolina.

Floyd's instructor is Serena Hill-LaRoche, assistanct professor of music at Coker College. She is also the PULSE coordinator for Coker. 





Students share ALO experiences

Dr. Jerome Reyes, ALO coordinator for the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics and ALO calculus teacher, asked some of his students to share their experiences from the program's first year. Here's what two of the students had to say after their first year in college:

"My first semester [at college] was awesome! I made the dean's list and, indeed, aced my math class."

"Clemson's been going well. The people are really nice, and the teachers try to make themselves as available as possible. Calculus last semester was a breeze. It was exactly the same as you taught it and I really almost could've never went to class and still made an A."