Every year, schools and districts across the state of South Carolina are busy mining for “Academic Gold” and “Academic Silver.” After the release of the state-mandated Report Cards each year, these schools and districts find out just how much of these two metals they were able to dig up with their “academic picks and shovels.”
Since the Palmetto Silver and Gold award program began, Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 each year has had schools earn the rankings of Palmetto Silver and Gold, and this year was no different.
Five schools in OCSD 5 earned the honor this year, including Palmetto Silver Award winners Dover Elementary (Cynthia Strozier, principal) and Bethune-Bowman Middle (Parrie Hook, principal), and Palmetto Gold Award winners, The Technology Center (Abbiegale Hugine, director), Bethune-Bowman High (Parrie Hook, principal) and Orangeburg-Wilkinson High (Rodney Zimmerman, principal). These schools received a flag, certificate and cash awards from the S.C. Department of Education.
These schools, along with the other schools in Orangeburg Consolidated 5, were recently honored during the district’s annual “Celebration of Success,” which had as its theme – “Mission Impossible.”
“These schools demonstrate what can be accomplished when everyone has high expectations and is focused on student achievement,” then-state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum said. “The Palmetto Gold and Palmetto Silver awards represent the hard work of students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members over a sustained period. I hope they will serve to motivate other schools to continue their improvement efforts.”
Orangeburg-Wilkinson High was the big cash winner from the State Department, earning $28,106, while The Technology Center received $14,028, Bethune-Bowman Middle/High, $7,411; and Dover Elementary, $3,620. Each of the schools also received plaques, trophies and a cash award from the district, as well.
Award criteria were developed by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee.
“The EOC is proud of these schools recognized for high performance and high rates of improvement,” EOC Chairman Harold Stowe said. “We congratulate the students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members for a job well done.”
Orangeburg Consolidated 5 Superintendent Melvin Smoak exudes pride when he speaks about what the district’s schools have accomplished.
“These five schools and all of our other schools are an example of what can be accomplished when every stakeholder – parents, students, staff and community – is dedicated and focused and has high expectations when it comes to high student achievement,” Smoak said.
“Our students, teachers, administrators, support staff and involved parents and community members have worked very hard.
“The Palmetto Gold and Silver awards will hopefully motivate all of us and others to work even harder to raise student achievement and remain a member of this elite group of state-recognized schools. I am proud of all of our schools, students, teachers, administrators, support staff, involved parents and community members because we have all worked as a team to make these successes a reality.”
Smoak went on to say that despite the gains, the job is still not complete and that the district’s schools, students, teachers, administrators, support staff, parents and the Orangeburg community have to continue to work together to reach even higher levels of excellence.
For achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), each of the following schools received a Heritage Encore Award and cash prize from the district: Brookdale Elementary School (Dr. Casandra Jenkins, principal), Bethune-Bowman Middle/High (Parrie Hook,principal), The Technology Center (Abbiegale Hugine, director), and Whittaker Elementary School (Dr. Bettie Hicks, principal).
Bethune-Bowman Elementary (Dr. Samuel Alston, principal), Mellichamp Elementary (Beverly Stroman-Spires, principal), Rivelon Elementary (Paulette Faust, principal), Sheridan Elementary (Xennie Weeks, principal), North Middle/High (Sterling Harris, principal), Robert E. Howard Middle (Dr. Jacqueline Vogt, principal), William J. Clark Middle (Lana Williams, principal), and New Vision Alternative Program (Robert Hemby, director) were awarded plaques and monetary awards from the district for academic achievement and exceptional services rendered.
The EOC’s award criteria were based on the absolute and improvement ratings assigned to each school on the 2006 report cards. The report card ratings are determined by PACT scores for elementary and middle schools. For high schools, the ratings are based on Exit Exam results and eligibility for LIFE scholarships. A total of 304 schools received Palmetto Silver and Gold awards this year: 159 Gold and 145 Silver.
“The ’Mission Impossible’ theme was very appropriate this year with the bar being raised again and the specter of the ever-changing ’No Child Left Behind’ federal legislation,” Smoak said. “But our schools and this district have accepted this mission and we’re going to continue to focus our efforts on being successful with the carrying out of the tasks associated with this mission.”