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. 





Celebrating family connections during Grandparents Day

Thornwell School for the Arts

Any day with grandparents can be special, but when they come to school, it's even better. Students at Thornwell School for the Arts invited grandparents to come and visit in celebration of Grandparents Day.

Grandparents Day was an idea from housewife Marian McQuade. The woman living in Fayette County, West Virginia, wanted to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes, and also wanted to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

The smiling faces on both children and grandparents at Thornwell School for the Arts demonstrates how important the love of a grandparent can be.

West Hartsville Back to School Bash

More than just a meet and greet

West Hartsville Elementary School will host its 2013-2014 Back to School Bash on August 15 from 4-6pm, at its campus on 214 Clyde Rd. in Hartsville.

Parents and students will have the opportunity to meet teachers and staff, locate classrooms, sign up for volunteer opportunities at the school and learn more about the Comer School Development Program. 

The Back to School Bash will also include a cook-out and fun activities for the families of West Hartsville Elementary. The midday personality, Ayers, from 103X radio station will be broadcasting live. Volunteers from Kelleytown Baptist Church and Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Inc., will be on hand to assist with the festivities.

Friends and families with students at West Hartsville Elementary are invited to come and kick-off the new school year. 

Families flock to West Hartsville Back to School Bash

Building relationships with parents and students key objective

The first Back to School Bash held at West Hartsville Elementary on Aug. 15, went beyond the traditional meet and greet, and engaged families in an entirely new way. The two-hour event was full of fun and entertainment that engaged children, their parents and siblings in ways to take the stress out of starting a new school year. Students walked the halls with their parents in a scavenger hunt, meeting teachers and visiting classrooms. At the Media Center, they chose a free book. After the indoor activities were done, a family-style cookout was held on the school grounds.

Recalling an African proverb, “It takes a village,” school principal Tara King says the teachers and staff understand that relationships are crucial to student success.

The school's Parent Team came up with the idea for the bash. The Parent Team is an involved group of parents, teachers and staff that evolved out of the Comer School Development Program (SDP). The school is beginning its third year of a five-year pilot program designed to improve student learning and academic performance. “We are all partners in the development of our children,” King explains. “Good relationships with parents are crucial to our success.”

Dorothy Anderson brought her fifth grader and 4K grandchildren to the event. Now that she is raising her grandchildren, she says it's important to keep up with everything they do. Active in many aspects of the girls' schooling, she notes, “It makes a big difference in how they learn.”

In Christa Henderson's fourth grade class, she explains how the day is structured, and eases any fears about changing classes. “Don't you worry,” she says to a young girl, “we won't let you get lost.”

Outside, as the event draws to a close, fifth grader Jocelyn Sellers proudly wears a West Hartsville sweatshirt she won. “I had fun today,” she says enthusiastically, recounting the games she played and the scavenger hunt tasks she accomplished. “I can't wait for school to start.”

One of the main objectives for the event, King says, was to get parents to sign up as volunteers. When one father signed up, he said he didn't think there was much he could do, but the teachers assured him, there would be plenty of ways he could help. Parent involvement can be as simple as reading to a class or serving on a committee.

“We want to encourage parents to be involved,” King says. “We are all in this together.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities at West Hartsville Elementary School, contact the school, 843-857-3720.

Police Chief James Hudson visits West Hartsville Elementary

Offers advice to fourth and fifth graders

Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson visits with fourth and fifth graders at West Hartsville Elementary

Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson visits with fourth and fifth graders at West Hartsville Elementary

As students grow up, it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to provide education on how to make good decisions. Sometimes, however, it is the voice of an outside influence that children respond to. On Feb. 19, at West Hartsville Elementary School, fourth and fifth grade boys met with Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson who talked about the importance of making good decisions and how those decisions can change a life.

During his presentation, Chief Hudson said, “We need to establish self-discipline as a lesson of respect. When one person is talking, show the respect needed to give them your full attention.”

The conversation centered around a question Chief Hudson asked: “What do you want to do in life and what will it take to get there?” The answers are the stuff dreams are made of. One fourth grade student said, “I want to be a professional football player. I have to work hard and play hard in order to be successful. I also have to do well in school and pass my classes." Another fourth grader said, “I want to play in the NBA or help others.”

Chief Hudson listened to the students, considering their desire to play professional sports. “You need self-discipline and tremendous listening skills to be an athlete," he explained. "If you cannot listen or cannot control yourself, then you cannot respond in an appropriate manner.

“Making bad decisions in life will prevent you from moving up in life or living that amazing life you all hope for. But it starts now. Now, you have make those decisions that impact your life in a positive manner,” Hudson added.

When asked why they attended the meeting with Chief Hudson, two fourth graders clearly understood the purpose of the visit. One said, “We are here to learn how to make good decisions.” The other said, “So we can learn right from wrong.”

Chief Hudson wants to keep in touch with the students, and plans to have weekly meetings where he can see how they are doing and introduce them to other male role models in the community. “You’re worth the effort to help change you for a better future,” Chief Hudson told the boys. 

Gabriel Fonseca, TEACH Foundation intern, says she was surprised at the learning that took place during Chief Hudson's visit. “I never expected to hear what I did,” she said. 

(Story submitted by Gabriel Fonseca)


On the front lines

Clerical staff training identifies areas for improvement

Staff from four Hartsville elementary schools piloting the Comer School Development Process learn about the pathways

Staff from four Hartsville elementary schools piloting the Comer School Development Process learn about the pathways

The first face that any parent, student or community member meet upon entering a school is in the main office. Recently, Tara King, Comer facilitator for the Darlington County School District, held a training session to teach clerical and office staff members how they connect to the Comer Developmental Pathways. Data entry managers, bookkeepers and secretaries from Southside Early Childhood Center, Thornwell School for the Arts, West Hartsville Elementary and Washington Street Elementary were able to evaluate their personal pathways and work on those needing improvement.

Pam Grantham, secretary at Thornwell School for the Arts, she learned to be a better listener and be more observant in the office for the students, parents and other stuff members of the school. “My role at the school is to offer direction,” she says. “ I truly do serve as the first person they meet or the first contact.”

The training focused on the many ways the office staff is the face and voice of the school. The session reviewed the basics of communication and how to build a community within and among the schools.

Nancy Blackwell, student data manager at Southside Early Childhood Center, understands what she needs to do. “My role at the school is to meet and greet parents, students and other staff as they come into the main office. I talk with them and share information they request. I believe I serve as a representative of the school as well.”

The training also gave the staff a chance to understand how the developmental pathways of the Comer program help them do their jobs, and how to help others. “I learned how to be aware of the developmental pathways and the importance of them. I noticed during the training that everything went together,” Blackwell added.

Alice Funderburke, secretary/bookkeeper at West Hartsville Elementary and Thelma Brewer, student data manager at Washington Street Elementary shared similar experiences during the training. Brewer believes she needs to be a better listener, and both see how they serve as the connection between the school and the parents.

All the participants work at different schools, but each understood what others are going through in their respective jobs. “The opportunity to get together with my fellow staff members was amazing. I really did like the training,” Grantham said.

For more information on the clerical and office staff training session, please contact Tara King at Washington Street Elementary.

(Story submitted by Gabriel Fonseca)

Puzzling about puzzles

Washington Street Elementary School

Students at Washington Street Elementary School use puzzles to develop classroom skills

Students at Washington Street Elementary School use puzzles to develop classroom skills

Did you ever think that puzzles could be a great way to teach students something? Did you ever think that they could gain knowledge and understand teamwork and hard work by simply putting a puzzle together? At Washington Street Elementary School, guidance counselor Roblynne McDuffie put this idea to the test. The results were tremendous.

Each week the students discussed the Darlington Country School District character word of the week. One week, the word was perseverance.

McDuffie says the students look up the meaning of the word and she shares real-life scenarios of what the word means. To help students understand perseverance more clearly, McDuffie developed a simple activity using puzzles. Students were put into groups and each group had to work together to complete the puzzle.

“Working together gave the students hands-on knowledge about perseverance, hard work and teamwork,” McDuffie says.

McDuffie was not the only one who witnessed students displaying perseverance. First grade teacher Porsche Jackson witnessed a group of students taking this task to the next level.

“When I arrived to pick up my first grade students from guidance, I observed them working collaboratively to put together a puzzle,” Jackson says. “Some puzzles were more complete than others, some students were working more appropriately than others, but they were all working on the task at hand. Who knew such a seemingly simple task of putting together a puzzle could develop such great skills?”

The puzzle activity showcased skills developed in students that have a hard time in the classroom. Jackson was quick to notice that the most completed puzzle was done by a group of students that are not usually recognized for having such skills. “After speaking with the adults who facilitated the activity, I learned that one of my students, who is often off task in the classroom, was the student in the group who excelled and had done the majority of the puzzle. This was mind blowing,” Jackson explains.

The teacher wondered what it was about doing a puzzle that inspired him. “I knew that whatever it was about the puzzle, I could use it to meet this student’s needs and the needs of all my students,” Jackson adds.

Joshua Jackson, first grader in Mrs. Jackson's class was excited about using puzzles at school. “I was really happy when I finished the puzzle first,” he says proudly. “The puzzle was really easy.”

For more information about the using puzzle activity to teach students about perseverance, contact Washington Street Elementary School guidance counselor Roblynne McDuffie. For more information on the benefits of using the puzzle in the classroom, contact Mrs. Porsche Jackson, first grade teacher at Washington Street Elementary School.

(Story submitted by Gabriel Fonseca)

Washington Street Elementary launches Roadrunners Race for Reading

Program off to a great start

Roadrunners Reading Program at Washington Street Elementary: January winners are 1st grader Jordan Hollimon (center), 2nd grader Saniyah Prescott (left) 3rd grader Aliyah Muhammad (right)

Roadrunners Reading Program at Washington Street Elementary: January winners are 1st grader Jordan Hollimon (center), 2nd grader Saniyah Prescott (left) 3rd grader Aliyah Muhammad (right)

Reading is one of the most integral components in an elementary school curriculum, and Washington Street Elementary knows just that. In early January, Washington Street Elementary school kicked-off a new reading program, Roadrunners Race For Reading, to encourage more students to read both at school and at their homes. “This is an exciting time for our students because they are more excited and encouraged to read,” says Stacy Bannister, curriculum teacher for Washington Street Elementary school. Washington Street Elementary school currently is one of four elementary schools in Hartsville that is participating in the Comer Student Development Program through the P.U.L.S.E program.

Washington Elementary school noticed that students needed to improve reading skills. And, as the teachers know, the more you read, the better you read. To get students more excited about reading, they introduced Roadrunners Race for Reading. “We've started with great energy, and with full student and teacher participation,” Bannister says.

Students are able to take books home to read as part of their homework or leisure time. “Our main goal is to provide each student with a mini-library of books at their homes,” Bannister adds.

The students are provided with a universal reading log where they record how many pages they have read each day. Every month, one student from each grade level is recognized based on how many pages he/she has read that month. Student names will be posted in the cafeteria for the whole school to see and to encourage a little friendly competition in the classrooms.

In January, the top three students in each grade level were recognized.  First grader Jordan Hollimon read 699 pages, second grader Saniyah Prescott read 808 pages, and third grader Aliyah Muhammad read 1,975 pages. In total all of the students at Washington Street Elementary School read an outstanding 44,059 pages in January.

“This program does more than just instill a love for reading. Each student learns responsibility and honesty when it comes to maintaining their logThey even learn a little math because they are responsible for adding up how many pages they have read,” Bannister explains.

(Story submitted by Gabriel Fonseca)