Spring activities at Thornwell School for the Arts

See what's happening at Thornwell School for the Arts this Spring.

Coker student chooses PULSE as community service project

Lunch buddy idea grows into lasting concept

For the second year, Coker College students choose PULSE programs in Hartsville schools to provide community service projects. Jubilee Smith, a Coker College senior and Sparrow Scholarship recipient, focused on the work of Dr. James P. Comer’s School Development Program to fulfill her scholarship requirements, which included 20 hours of local community service during the academic year and 20 hours of service at home during the summer. Smith developed and coordinated a lunch-buddy program in four elementary schools, Thornwell, Southside Early Childhood Center, West Hartsville and Washington Street.

“For this project, I wanted to focus on students who lacked healthy relationships with others, and students who were shy or timid,” says Smith. “It was important to me to create a project that would get the Coker students involved. I recruited seven very dedicated and awesome volunteers. Iparticipated as a volunteer as well.”

Coker student volunteers met with Comer facilitator Justin Dunham who provided a childhood development training session that provided tips on communication skills targeting youth and on building healthy social relationships.

“At first, we began by eating lunch with each class selected based on the schedule of the students," Smith explains. This allowed the Coker students to select one or two students for the Lunch Buddy Project based on pre-determined criteria. 

"We ended up selecting 16 students total from all four Comer schools to be a part of the Lunch Buddy Project," Smith adds. "We began each session with an icebreaker, asking students about their day. We allowed students to discuss whatever they wanted to as long as it was appropriate. The most important thing was to keep them engaged in healthy conversation. After meeting with the students for a few weeks, we  took them from class at lunch time and sat together as a family."

Many of the students didn't know each other, so Smith and her volunteers used the opportunity to help the students build a healthy relationship with other students. "Each week the students looked forward to us being there and always greeted us with a warm welcome," she says.

"I saw significant impact in both the Coker students and the students that were a part of the project. The Lunch Buddy project will continue in the years to come through other Coker College students,” Smith added.

Smith is the second Sparrow Scholarship recipient to complete scholarship requirements through the PULSE programs. In 2012-13, Coker senior, Gabe Fonseca interned with PULSE facilitator, Tara King. Fonesca helped design and deliver the mentor program.     

Reading camp accelerates learning for K5-grade 3 students

Summer 2015

K5-grade 3 students attended summer reading camp to stay sharp on skills and develop new ones

K5-grade 3 students attended summer reading camp to stay sharp on skills and develop new ones

Hard work brings rewards. That’s what a group of students learned this summer by participating in the Darlington County School District summer reading camp. Over 100 kindergarten through third grade students enjoyed shared reading, read-aloud and writing curriculum as part of a six-week literacy-based camp. Study included science and social studies from the grade above as a means of front–loading content for the first nine weeks of the 2015-16 school year.

The overall program showed that students averaged one-half year growth in the six weeks of camp. To celebrate student success and attendance they were treated to a trip to EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, SC.

Students began their adventure in the lobby of the museum where they were greeted by EDDIE, the world's largest child. The exhibit is a 40-foot and 17.5-ton model made of reinforced, molded plastic large enough for adults and children to climb in and through. Students scrambled through his brain, heart and body taking an interactive journey through the anatomy.

Campers were excited to run around and visit the hands-on exhibits. One camper exclaimed, “This is amazing. I wish school was like this.”

In World of Work, a kid-sized city, campers learned what it’s like to be a farmer, firefighter, store manager, mechanic, scientist and builder. The exhibit teaches the importance of hard work in a variety of jobs. Over the summer campers worked hard in their jobs as students and were delighted to enjoy the benefits a job well done.  

Mentors and mentees celebrate a successful year

May 2015

Mentors, mentees and family members joined together to celebrate the end of a successful year for the PULSE mentor program. The event was held at the Hartsville skating rink at the end of May. Darlington County School District PULSE facilitator, Justin Dunham, began the evening by recognizing mentors for their dedication and commitment to the students. He told a short story about each mentor noting that many including Jada Gore, James Hudson, Natalie Zeigler and Blair Bryan had been involved with the program since its inception in 2012. Mentor school coordinators, Raven Legette, Thornwell School for the Arts; Anita Brown, Southside Early Childhood Center; Jarriel Jacobs, Washington Street; and Pierre Brown, West Hartsville presented each volunteer with a PULSE mentor t-shirt and gift bag.

Dunham thanked parents for allowing their children to participate in this special program, and shared a personal account of what mentoring has meant to him. He introduced one of his own mentees and showed how the two of them share a secret handshake. “This is something just between us. We do this handshake every time we get together,” he explained.

Mentors stood proudly beside their mentees as Dunham called each student by name and presented them with completion certificates. In addition, students got to select a gift from a table of puzzles, games and books chosen to encourage summer learning.

Following the awards ceremony and a quick meal, the students hit the rink and enjoyed skating for the remainder of the evening.

Stem summer learning loss with fun family games

Free and easy ways to engage children

It's no secret that summer vacation causes a significant learning loss for many school-aged children. To stem the tide, Thornwell School for the Arts grade 3 teacher, Brandy Benjamin, recommends some classic and informal games that boost language, memory and other learning skills. The best thing about these games is they don't cost any money to play, and don't require any pieces or components—just brain power. Here is a short list with instructions:

20 questions

One player thinks of an object, let others know if it is an animal, vegetable or mineral. The other plays ask only questions that can be answered with a yes or no. The goal is to discover what the object is in fewer than 20 questions.


This game is a riff on 20 questions, best suited to older students who are familiar with people in the news and more historic figures. One player (or a team of players) takes on the persona of a well-known person and shares only the initials of the person's name as a clue. Other players (or the other team) asks yes or no questions until they guess the person, or have used up 20 questions.


One player names a category and the other players take turns naming items that belong to it. The category can be broad (e.g., animals) or narrow (e.g., types of dogs). The game continues until no one can come up with another item to add to the category.


Each player comes up with a place name (town, state, country, etc.) that begins with the same letter as the last letter of the place mentioned by the previous player. For example, if the first player says Italy, the second player might say Yosemite. Play continues until players run out of places to name.


This game is similar to Horse. The game starts with the first player naming a letter of the alphabet. Other players take turns by adding a letter that contributes to the spelling of a word. The catch: Avoid completing a word. Each time someone completes a word, he gets a letter of the word Ghost. Once a player has spelled ghost, he/she is out of the game. A player can be challenged if another player suspects the letter added isn't part of a real word.

I packed my grandmother's trunk

Each player starts off with the sentence, “I packed my grandmother's trunk and in it I put...” The first player completes the sentence with an item that begins with the letter A. The next player repeats the sentence and the first players answer, and then adds an item with the letter B. Play continues through the entire alphabet.