10 Hartsville High choir students earn All-State honors

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Ten Hartsville High School students recently earned the highest honor bestowed on high school choral singers when the South Carolina Music Educators Association named them to the All-State Choir.

The students are senior Andrew Lackey, senior Stone Martin, senior Daniel Thompson, junior Elianna Thompson, junior Chris Beasley, junior JaDira Fields, junior C.J. Johnson, junior Archie Torain, sophomore Larissa Berger and sophomore Lee Saxton.

Jim Beaumier, the director of choirs at HHS, described the selections as momentous.

“This is the largest number of All-State Choir students in the history of Hartsville High School,” Beaumier said. “These are all great students."

The number of All-State honorees from HHS increased from six last year. In fact, the number of HHS students named to the All-State Choir has increased four consecutive years. The Darlington County School District had more students named to the All-State Choir than the seven surrounding counties combined.

Lackey and Daniel Thompson earned All-State selections for a third consecutive year, something Beaumier said hasn’t had happen in his 12 years at HHS. Johnson, Martin and Torain earned the honor for a second time.

The 10 All-State Choir members will perform during the South Carolina All-State Concert on March 4 at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.

Hartsville PULSE Initiative Selected as Finalist for Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence

Hartsville, S.C., U.S. – The TEACH Foundation (Teaching, Educating and Advancing Children in Hartsville) is pleased to announce its PULSE (Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence) initiative has been selected as a finalist for The Riley Institute at Furman University's 2016 Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence. The WhatWorksSC award, first given in 2011, highlights outstanding evidence-based educational initiatives throughout South Carolina. Finalists were chosen by a panel of judges from more than 100 entries in the Riley Institute's WhatWorksSC clearinghouse. As a finalist, PULSE will receive a small grant from the Riley Institute for enhancement of the program or consulting with other schools, districts and organizations interested in its replication.

PULSE is a one-of-kind public-private partnership formed to implement a comprehensive scholastic excellence program in Hartsville public schools that expanded curriculum opportunities and further improved student achievement through collaborative academic and social development initiatives. Partners include the Darlington County School District, South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM), Coker College and Sonoco. Sonoco funded the initiative through a $5 million grant over five years.

"We believe it is our responsibility to build the community as we build our business," said Harris DeLoach, executive chairman of the board, Sonoco, and chairman of the board, TEACH Foundation. "It is absolutely critical that every child, regardless of economic status, leaves the public school system with the skills needed to succeed in the workplace."

After its five year implementation, a snapshot of results is as follows:

  • A key component of PULSE, the Comer School Development Program, focusing on academic achievement and personal development of elementary students, served more than 6,500 students at four area elementary schools. On average, students increased reading scores by 12-points and math scores by 14-points on Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing.
  • Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) served more than 840 high school students in Hartsville with courses such as Mandarin Chinese, Molecular Biology, Engineering Design and Development, Circuitry and Electronic Inventions, Applied Piano, Class Voice, and more. The ALO program grew to 14 course offerings during the 2015-16 school year and celebrated three successive years of all students passing AP tests, earning college credits. Students participating in ALO have published scientific papers, earned prestigious scholarships and been selected for competitive internships at organizations like NASA.
  • The local Scoutreach component helped more than 350 male students in grades 5k-5 gain leadership skills.
  •  The summer reading program (six weeks long) exceeded its goal of increasing reading proficiency – from four months to six months of reading growth. 

"Every accomplishment begins with action, and PULSE is no different. The five-year program is a great example of coordinated action resulting in positive change. We must build on it," said Jack Sanders, president and CEO of Sonoco.

"The TEACH Foundation is much more than just an exciting and unique partnership," said Dr. Eddie Ingram, superintendent of Darlington County School District. "The Foundation's leadership is forward-thinking in approach and execution. In addition to substantial fiscal support of the PULSE program, the TEACH Foundations also brings innovation and networking opportunities to the people of our district."

Finalists will be recognized and the winner of the 2016 award will be announced at a luncheon October 14 in conjunction with South Carolina Future Minds' annual Public Education Partners (PEP) conference at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The public is invited to attend the full conference or the luncheon only. For more information and/or to register for the luncheon or conference, please visit the Riley Institute's website or contact Jill Fuson at


The TEACH Foundation is a not for profit, 501(c)(3) organization that serves as the administration arm for the PULSE initiative which includes accelerated learning programs at Hartsville High School, students living in Hartsville attending Mayo High School and the Comer School Development Program in four area elementary schools. It was formed as part of the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce. The Foundation manages the $5 million in funding provided to PULSE by the Sonoco Foundation.

About Sonoco

Founded in 1899, Sonoco is a global provider of a variety of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and displays and packaging supply chain services. With annualized net sales of approximately $5 billion, the Company has 20,800 employees working in more than 330 operations in 34 countries, serving some of the world's best known brands in some 85 nations. Sonoco is a proud member of the 2015/2016 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. For more information on the Company, visit our website at

Julie Scott

Hartsville named All America City

PULSE program key component of application


The city of Hartsville and its residents are still celebrating the victory of being named an All America City (AAC). Sponsored by the National Civic League, the AAC designation is given annually to towns, cities, counties, tribes, neighborhoods and metropolitan regions for outstanding civic accomplishments. The 2016 award program highlighted community efforts to "ensure that all our children are healthy and successful in school and life."

The process to become an All America City is daunting. The application asks direct questions about race, crime and employment. Specifically, each city must elaborate on three key community-driven programs, and make presentations to a jury of civic experts focusing on those examples of collaborative community problem solving. The application states: “We welcome descriptions of projects that ensure the success of all children, including at-risk children, through health or healthy community strategies and/or education strategies particularly seeking to improve attendance in school and/or projects that reflect the intersection of health and education.”

The Partnership for Unparalleled Scholastic Excellence (PULSE) was an integral part of the application's success story. The public-private partnership began in 2011, when then Sonoco president, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Harris DeLoach approached local leaders to improve educational opportunities and academic achievement for Hartsville students. Those leaders, Robert Wyatt, president of Coker College; Murray Brockman, president of the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM); and Dr. Rainey Knight, superintendent of the Darlington County School District, brainstormed ideas that eventually become PULSE.

PULSE initiatives create the framework for student success by providing an elementary school environment that supports and encourages whole child development and offers academic challenges for high school students. The goal is that at graduation, students will be prepared, contributing members of society and the workforce through the combined resources and collaboration. The two key components of PULSE—the Comer School Development Program (SDP) at four Hartsville elementary schools and the Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) at the high school for students excelling in science, math, the arts and language.

ALO students benefit from collaborative teaching program between GSSM and Coker College. Classes through GSSM include Advanced Chemistry, AP Calculus AB, Robotics, Molecular Biology, Pre-Engineering and Mandarin Chinese I, II and III. Classes at Coker include art, music, theater and dance. Dual credit is available for the arts classes and Mandarin Chinese.

The Comer SDP uses a no-fault problem solving strategy among three teams at the school. The teams encourage parental involvement and participation. By creating and working a comprehensive school plan, the SDP focuses on nurturing the whole child along six developmental pathways. The Comer schools have seen an increase in student growth and academic achievement as well as a reduction in disciplinary issues.

The application also outlined numerous successes in both the elementary and high school initiatives. Also mentioned were the PULSE mentor program, and Scoutreach, which is active in all four of the Comer elementary schools. The former enlists citizens to mentor elementary school children and the latter is an extension of the Boy Scouts of America, designed to provide leadership skills to children in rural areas.

Sharman Poplava, executive director of the TEACH Foundation, which oversees the administration of the PULSE program, and member of the AAC team, says she is proud of the town's accomplishment. “It's a wonderful testament to the residents of Hartsville that we have been named an All America City. There is a tremendous amount of ground work that has to be done to prepare and participate in this process.

“This year's theme of student success is what the PULSE program is all about,” she adds. “Hartsville is a special place that strives to improve educational outcomes for students. It's nice to be recognized for all the things that our community is doing right.”

Poplava was joined by two ALO students, Stone Martin and Archie Torain. Tara King, principal of West Hartsville elementary, a Comer school, also attended on behalf of the PULSE program.

Hartsville is one of 10 cities that earned the All American City designation for 2016. The small South Carolina town was also an All America City in 1996.

Read the entire application and the numerous PULSE successes here.

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."

ALO students excel in voice and piano

2014-15 year-end recitals, successes celebrated

The PULSE Accelerated Learning Opportunities (ALO) classes celebrated several milestones at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Seventeen students earned dual credit for music arts classes at Coker College, including voice and piano.

Danielle Cottingham, senior at Hartsville High School (HHS), was selected by the Coker faculty to participate and perform at the college's Honors Recital. Her selection was based on grades, class deportment, improvement and clear demonstration of the characteristics of a dedicated music student.

Other successes throughout the year include:

Participation in a piano master class conducted by University of South Carolina professor Dr. Charles Fugo, an accomplished musician and instructor

HHS senior Jabria Bishop, vocal student, was cast in the lead of the school's musical production

Three vocal students from HHS participated in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competiton. ALO students have qualified all four years of the program. This year, three students scored superior, and four scored excellent in the state solo and ensemble divisions. Anisha Green qualified to move on to the regional competition held in College Park, Maryland, but she was unable to attend. The NATS competition is adjudicated by vocal teachers from all over the state and southeast region.  

Three ALO students who have participated in the ALO program for the last three years, graduated in 2015. Two of them, Cottingham and Matthew Little, are pursuing majors in music and have earned scholarships from several institutions. Jabria Bishop, who will attend Duke University on a full scholarship, is pursuing a degree in bio-engineering with a music minor.

In January 2015, rising junior Stone Martin enrolled in Piano Class I to learn basic keyboard reading skills with Professor Chandler. By May, under Professor's Chandler's tutelage, he was invited to participate in the Coker Community Music Spring Recital based on his excellent performance in Class Piano. After the recital, he received a scholarship to participate in the Coker College Summer Piano Institute (SPI). SPI provides intensive piano study to pianists in grades 7-12. 

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.

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.