Two Midlands schools earn Palmetto’s Finest Award

(WIS) – The song “Happy” reflected the atmosphere in the cafeteria at Oak Grove Elementary School Tuesday.

Kids, parents, teachers and district administrators were dancing to Pharrell’s hit song after learning they earned the Palmetto’s Finest Award.

“I was glad to see them happy,” Principal Sherry Cariens said. “It’s exciting to see that they are proud of their school.”

Oak Grove was one of five elementary schools statewide that was named a finalist for the award from the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. Two elementary schools were presented with the award Tuesday.

“The students were really excited,” Cariens said. “They have been involved in the process from the beginning.”
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They gathered in the cafeteria Tuesday afternoon for a statewide internet stream from the Department of Education announcing the winners of the award. The room erupted in cheers when the announcement was made.

“I feel like all of our hard work has paid off,” Cariens said. “We come to school every day striving for excellence and it’s nice to be recognized for that. We work really hard here, the staff and the students.”

The Palmetto’s Finest Award is just one of several honors the school has received. Cariens said the students, parents, staff and district deserve the recognition.
“It’s fabulous to be named a Palmetto’s Finest,” Cariens said. “Even though we have been named a Lighthouse School for Leadership and even though we have been named a National Blue Ribbon School, this is our home award. It’s the Palmetto State and this means so much to us because this is South Carolina.”

Chapin High School was named Palmetto’s Finest for the High School level.

“To be named among other outstanding schools is a great success,” said Dr. Akil Ross, principal of Chapin High School. “I am proud of the Chapin community for its support of the school and the resources it provides to help meet our goals. I am proud of the work and dedication of the faculty and staff. Most of all, I am proud of the determination each student has to maximize their potential through academics, athletics and the arts.”

Chapin High School received an “A” rating under the latest federal accountability system and a Palmetto Gold award for academic achievement. It also received an absolute rating of 4.6, which is one of the highest ratings in the state for open enrollment schools. Over 85 percent of seniors took the SAT last school year, and Chapin High yielded a composite score of 1550. The school has two state championships this school year, including one for its marching band and one for its cheerleading team, and a student and coach were selected for the 2014 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner said, “An honor like this does not happen without the combined efforts of students, staff, parents and the entire community. We congratulate Chapin High School on this outstanding achievement and on being one of the Palmetto State’s finest public high schools.”

Now in its 37th year, the Palmetto’s Finest award is considered one of the most coveted and respected awards among educators. Other schools receiving this year’s awards include: Oak Grove Elementary in Lexington 1, Red Cedar Elementary in Beaufort County School District and Gregg Middle in Dorchester District 2.

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