SANTEE -- Parents of students who attend school in Orangeburg Consolidated School District 3 gathered at Lake Marion High School to "Get Back to Basics" on Sept. 28.
“This year we decided to go with a theme around college and career readiness,” OCSD3 Superintendent Dr. Jesulon Gibbs-Brown said of the program. “We thought it would be good for us to talk about what’s happening, beginning at the elementary school level, building up to the middle school level, and then leading to the high school level.”
She said the purpose of the event was to give parents a better understanding of "why we do what we do, beginning with young scholars, so that by the time they get to the high school, they have more college and career options available to them,” Gibbs-Brown said.
The program kicked off with spirit music from the LMHS Pep Band and enthusiastic rallying cries from school cheerleaders. The LMHS JROTC color guard then posted the U.S. and state flags on the stage before the main program got under way.
Speakers from key areas of the district and its individual schools provided parents with brief overviews of various programs offered at each school. Speakers included:
- Dr. Marty Conner, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
- Joseph Brown, guidance counselor, Holly Hill Elementary School.
- Aldean Gilmore, director of the Career and Technical Education program at Lake Marion.
- Michael Sneed, LMHS athletics director.
- Lt. Co. Kevin Jefferson, JROTC.
Members of the Holly Hill Elementary Beta Club Singers performed “Tomorrow." To ensure that parents could focus on the information presented at the event, the district provided dinner and activities for their children in the adjacent cafeteria. Each of the schools in the district also gave away a new bicycle as a door prize.
“This event grew out of a conversation with Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter,” Gibbs-Brown said. “The idea behind it was, we had so many events to celebrate students as we start off the school year, and we thought it would be great to have the opportunity to bring parents together at the beginning of each school year to have back-to-basics events for (them) to hear about all the wonderful events going on here at Orangeburg 3 and what (they) can expect (their) students to learn when they are with us during this school year.”
Cobb-Hunter was scheduled to speak at the event but she had to cancel due to illness, and Rep. Jerry Govan filled in for her.
“I believe the key to the future of public education in this state and in this country is parent engagement,” Govan said. “Why do I say that? Educators and wraparound services provided by social workers and others from various fields and agencies like myself will never substitute for a caring, engaged parent that supports, encourages, motivates and inspires his or her child.”
Govan elaborated on the importance of parental involvement in education.
“I stand here tonight not only as a legislator, but also as a parent. My wife and I had four children who went through the public school system here in Orangeburg County," he said.
“I’m here to tell you that public education works when we support it and give it the support it needs to do what it needs to do for the future of our children."
Govan also talked about the reasons Orangeburg County and South Carolina place a high priority on education.
“In terms of the tax revenue of this state, more than 60 percent of our budget goes to education, whether that’s in K-12 or higher education,” he said. “So, education is indeed the number one focus for us in the General Assembly in South Carolina.”
The legislator added, “Sixty-five percent of the new jobs that will be created (in the state in the years to come) will require not just a high school diploma. Our children are going to have to have a post-secondary education or degree, whether that means a four-year college degree or a two-year technical college degree, to meet the challenges and meet the needs of this future job market.”
“We are no longer competing with North Carolina or Georgia for the jobs of the future. We’re competing with the rest of the world,” Govan said. “As a result of the internet and advances in technology, we are no longer confined to just areas or states. We have now traversed countries. We have gone international, and our students have to be ready to meet the challenges of competing in a global workplace.”
He added, “Our children need us and they need to know that we care, and teachers and administrators can’t do it alone."
Govan exhorted parents to “stay engaged and let’s help these young people soar to new and higher heights.”
Dr. Liana Calloway, district director of special services, said the Sept. 28 program provided "an opportunity for all schools and families to work more closely together to ensure student success. Parents and families are important to a school’s success.”