Richland One 2019-2020 Points of Pride

2019 Graduates

    • Travonte Gadson, who attended Richland One’s Heyward Career and Technology Center, won a silver medal for his expertise in construction in the SkillsUSA National Championship in June. Travonte, a graduate of Lower Richland High School, was one of 11 students from South Carolina to receive a medal. The championship included more than 6,400 students nationwide.


    • Columbia High School Air Force JROTC cadets were big winners at the Cadet Leadership Course held at The Citadel in the summer. The cadets won 39 awards for excellence in competitive sports, physical fitness and leadership skills.


    • Kira Simmons, a rising fifth-grader at Burton-Pack Elementary School, was crowned the 2019 Miss South Carolina Junior Pre-Teen. Kira’s motto is “you’re not a quitter; your strong is beautiful.”


    • Places of Freedom, a collection of poems, essays, photos and media art created by Lower Richland High School students in the StoryLab project, was on display at the Columbia Museum of Art through September 15. Lower Richland StoryLab was an in-school media program that focused on the issues faced by rural communities in and around Lower Richland in the 21st Century. With the instruction of artist-in-residence and Lower Richland native Mahkia Greene, over 60 Lower Richland High School students created new works of media art that examined their community’s past, told its stories, challenged misconceptions, explored challenges identified by residents, and presented a vision for the future of Lower Richland County.


    • Five Richland One theatre students won top awards at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska this summer. Cameron Vipperman of A.C. Flora High School and Dreher High School students Arrington Jones, Tyler Wesley, Ella Dubard and Sofie Jones captured National Superior Titles in Performance awards. High school students from the United States, the Northern Mariana Islands, China, the United Arab Emirates and other countries attended the festival.


    • Niani Feelings, a 2013 graduate of Dreher High School, was selected to be a member of the cast of the hit Broadway musical Mean Girls, which kicked off its national tour on September 21 in Buffalo, New York. After Buffalo, Niani and other cast members will play stops including Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Orlando, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.


    • The David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation, John M. Belk Endowment, US Foods, Classroom Central and Carolina Panthers Charities partnered to provide more than 15,000 backpacks with school supplies to students in Richland One, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and the Wake County (N.C.) Public School System. Each district received 5,000 backpacks with school supplies. The two-state distribution kicked off with a high energy “encouragement rally” for 500 students at Richland One’s Forest Heights Elementary School on August 22. Twelve other Richland One schools will receive backpacks with school supplies through the program.


    • Richland One is setting the pace as a national and state leader in creating healthy schools. Seventeen Richland One schools were recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation as being among the healthiest schools in the nation. Of the 32 South Carolina schools earning the recognition this year, more than half are Richland One schools. Brockman Elementary, Crayton Middle, A.C. Flora High and Lower Richland High schools received the 2019 National Healthy Schools Silver Award for transforming their schools into healthier places. Richland One’s 2019 Bronze Award winners were Brennen Elementary, Burton-Pack Elementary, Carver-Lyon Elementary, Forest Heights Elementary, Gadsden Elementary, Horrell Hill Elementary, Lewis Greenview Elementary, Meadowfield Elementary, Pine Grove Elementary, South Kilbourne Elementary, Webber Elementary, Heyward Gibbes Middle schools and the Olympia Learning Center.


    • Fourteen Richland One high school seniors have been named semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program, an honor that less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors achieve. Richland One congratulates Dreher High School seniors Rahul Bulusu, Julian J. Ellenberg, Sarah R. Germany, Caroline E. Hynes, Alexander G. Randall, Catherine E. Reid, Mary F. Shavo, David B. Shealy, Johan Willem R. van Rosevelt and Hanah J. Watts, along with A.C. Flora High School seniors Lauren Amrol, Chloe L. Courtney Bohl, Thomas H. Kepley and Elizabeth P. Thomas.


    • Four Richland One seniors have been named 2020 National Merit Commended Scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The district extends its congratulations to Dreher High School students Tyler Kendrick, Hayley Mason and Michael Shimizu, as well as A.C. Flora High School senior Connor Spearman Overbay. These academically talented students were among the 34,000 high scorers nationwide to be selected for this prestigious honor based on their scores on the PSAT in October 2018. Letters of Commendation are given in recognition for their outstanding academic promise.


    • Karyn Parsons, best known for her role as Will Smith’s cousin Hilary Banks on the hit TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, visited Logan Elementary on September 20. She talked about historical figures and gave students tips on creative writing and film making.


    • At 82.2%, Richland One’s 2019 high school graduation rate is not only the highest in the district’s history, it’s also higher than the statewide average of 81.1%. The latest graduation rate data was released by the South Carolina Department of Education as part of the 2019 school, district and state report cards. Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon credited the historic increase in the district’s graduation rate to the bold new strategies the district implemented last summer, including creating school and district graduation teams to track student progress, holding meetings with seniors and their parents to identify needs and barriers to graduation and providing mentors to motivate students who may need an extra push.


    • Richland One schools have won 16 Palmetto Gold and Palmetto Silver Awards, the state’s highest educational award for academic achievement and student improvement. The Palmetto Gold and Palmetto Silver awards program was created for schools attaining high levels of absolute performance, high rates of growth and substantial progress in closing achievement gaps between groups of students. The names of the 11 winning schools for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years were announced October 7 by the South Carolina Department of Education. Brennen Elementary, Brockman Elementary Rosewood Elementary, Satchel Ford Elementary and Dreher High schools won honors both years.


    2017-2018 Palmetto Gold and Silver Award Winners

    Gold winners included Brennen Elementary School, Brockman Elementary School, Rosewood Elementary School and Satchel Ford Elementary School. Silver award winners were Meadowfield Elementary School, South Kilbourne Elementary School, Hand Middle School and Dreher High School.


    2018-2019 Palmetto Gold and Silver Award Winners

    Gold winners included Brennen Elementary School, Brockman Elementary School and Rosewood Elementary School. Silver awards winners included Gadsden Elementary School, A.C. Moore Elementary School, Satchel Ford Elementary School, Crayton Middle School and Dreher High School.


    • Richland One schools had an excellent showing at the 4A State Swim Championships on October 12, winning a total of 12 gold, silver and bronze medals. A.C. Flora High School swimmers won seven awards including two gold, two silver and three bronze medals. Dreher High School’s swimmers took home four silver medals and one bronze medal. Flora’s star swimmer Tanner Edwards won two state championships and set a new state record. Tanner was the fastest in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke. With a time of 49.79 in the backstroke, he set a new state record by more than 0.6 seconds. Over the past two years, Tanner has won a total of three individual and two relay team state championships.


    • The South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) named two Richland One educators as finalists for its prestigious Principal of the Year awards which recognize exceptional school leadership. Dr. Robin Coletrain, principal of W.A. Perry Middle School, was one of two finalists for Middle Level Principal of the Year. Watkins-Nance Elementary School Principal Dr. Linda Norton was one of two finalists for Elementary Principal of the Year. Dr. Coletrain, who has been with Richland One for 18 years, describes herself as being passionate about providing innovative solutions to the challenges students face to be competitive in the 21st century. Dr. Norton, who has been with the district since 2008, attributes the academic achievements of Watkins-Nance students to the efforts of devoted parents, faculty, staff and community partners.


    • Rebecca Dunn, a Richland One Middle College senior, is one of 10 state semifinalists in the U.S. Senate Youth Scholarship Awards Program, which recognizes outstanding academic performance, leadership and community service. Rebecca will be competing to be one of two delegates selected to represent South Carolina in Washington, D.C. in March 2020. Winning delegates will receive a $10,000 college scholarship, as well as an all-expenses-paid trip for one week to the nation’s capital to learn more about how the federal government operates.


    • After earning a superior rating and winning second place in the performance category, Dreher High School’s Marching Band, placed sixth overall in the SC Band Directors Association 3A State Championship—the highest level any Richland One band program has ever achieved.


    • Creativity has made two Caughman Road Elementary School reading teachers $500 richer. Martha Garvin was named one of two winners in the SC Department of Education’s Read Your Way to the Big Game Bulletin Board Contest. Garvin worked on the bulletin board with reading coach Ashley Pope. Even though only one teacher’s name could be officially listed on the entry form, Garvin plans to share the prize money with Pope.


    • A.C. Flora High School’s girls and boys cross country teams were first-place winners in Richland One’s recent cross country meet. Dreher High School’s team won second place. The top female individual runner was Munirah Gordon of Flora with a time of 20:15.57. First-place individual honors for the boys went to Lavante Binion of Dreher. His time was 16:25.74.


    • W.A. Perry Middle School Principal Dr. Robin Coletrain was named the 2020 SC Middle Level Principal of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.


    • Pine Grove Elementary’s School Improvement Council (SIC) was named a 2020 Honor Roll recipient by the South Carolina School Improvement Council (SC-SIC) for its significant effort to foster civic engagement in public education and to make a positive difference for its students. As an Honor Roll school, Pine Grove will compete with nine other Honor Roll recipients for the SC-SIC’s annual Dick and Tunkey Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence, which will be announced in April.


    • Eight Richland One teachers achieved National Board certification and 12 Richland One teachers became recertified National Board teachers this year. Richland One now has 274 National Board-certified teachers. The National Board Certification is the highest teaching credential a teacher can achieve.The newly certified educators are Vanessa Bankhead and Lindsey Jefferson of Brennen Elementary, Katherine Hart of Caughman Road Elementary, Eunice Gloster-Pou of H.B. Rhame Elementary, Skylar Miller of Satchel Ford Elementary, Kevin Fletcher of W.A. Perry Middle, Cheri Stakely from the Waverly Administration Building and Faith Woods of Sandel Elementary.The recertified educators are Martha Wright of A.C. Moore Elementary, Caroline Manning of Brennen Elementary, Terri Washington of Greenview Elementary, Sara Parsons of Crayton Middle, Brian McCants of Hand Middle, Judith Mwamuka of A.C. Flora High, Jennifer Stokes from the Waverly Administration Building, Elizabeth Ancone from the Waverly Administration Building,  Ana Hernadez from the Waverly Administration Building, Caroline Carson of Rosewood Elementary, Gloria Lasado of Forest Heights Elementary and Latha Janet of Dreher High School.


    • Pine Grove Elementary’s School Improvement Council (SIC) was named a 2020 Honor Roll recipient by the South Carolina School Improvement Council for its significant effort to foster civic engagement in public education and to make a positive difference for its students. Nine other schools were chosen for this honor. As an Honor Roll recipient, Pine Grove and the other nine schools will compete for SC-SIC’s annual Dick and Tunkey Riley Award for School Improvement Council Excellence.


    • Meadowfield Elementary School’s Paideia program was one of five schools in the nation to be accredited this year as a Paidea School for Creative Thinking. The school was awarded the National Certification on Paideia Seminar, the first step in the accreditation process. Paidea is a whole-child approach to instruction that uses coached projects, student-led conferences and other methods to develop independent and engaged learners striving to meet their academic goals and overcome challenges.


    • Eleven of the 16 students selected for the South Carolina All-State Guitar Ensemble were from Dreher High School. These students are Emily Gates, Cale Johnson, Hannah White, Coby Van Rosevelt, Quinlan Dandridge, Ryan Campbell, Zack Godby, Lennon Hunt, Rion Williams, Ellie Thompson and Sean Adams.


    • Four Richland One students received the designation of Carolina Master Scholar from the University of South Carolina. These students, Aidan Gruner and Lucy Semmelmeyer from Dreher High School, Harold Reed Jr. from Columbia High School and Madelyn Weston from A.C. Flora High School, are four of the 23 middle and high school students who received this honor for academic excellence.


    • Crayton Middle School was redesignated as a National School to watch for its academic excellence and for creating an outstanding and supportive learning environment for students. It was one of only 20 schools in South Carolina to hold this distinction. Crayton Middle School was originally designated as a School to Watch in 2017. Crayton will be recognized at the South Carolina Middle School Conference in March and this summer in Washington, DC at the National Schools to Watch Conference.


    • Grammy-Winning legends Peabo Bryson and Stephanie Mills conducted two Master Classes February 20 for Richland One visual and performing arts students, including a class with special needs students. The Master Classes were held in partnership with the Auntie Karen Foundation’s “Legends Of…” concert series. Bryson won Grammys for his duets with Celine Dion, and Mills starred in The Wiz on Broadway. Bryson’s Master Class was held at Lower Richland High School, and Mills’ Master Class, which included her son who has special needs, was held at W.J. Keenan High School. Special needs students and their parents were invited to attend the Keenan class.


    • The South Carolina Senate honored the advocacy of Eric Warren Davis, a Lower Richland High School graduate and creator of the Irly Bird STEM Program, with a Resolution on February 4. The resolution recognized Davis for his leadership 30 years ago as an engineering student fighting to improve the curriculum, accreditation and resources of the South Carolina State University Engineering Department. His Irly Bird STEM Program includes a mobile lab with interactive cameras, experiments, research and gaming technology to teach students about oceanography, insects, veterinary science and other STEM subjects.


    • Dreher High School retired Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA legend Alex English’s No. 22 Jersey on January 21. English’s jersey is the first jersey to be retired by Dreher. English attended Dreher from 1968-1972, where he was an All-Region and All-State athlete. He then went to the University of South Carolina, where he was the Gamecock’s No. 2 all-time scorer. In the NBA, English played for the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers and the Denver Nuggets. Named to eight consecutive NBA All-Star teams, English retired from the NBA as its seventh-leading scorer (25,613) and he is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1997), The South Athletic Hall of Fame and the Gamecock Athletics Hall of Fame (1988).


    • Thirteen Richland One high school seniors were named finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program, a prestigious program which awards scholarships to academically talented students across the country. Scholarship winners will be announced in the spring and summer. Richland One congratulates the following seniors for their selection as finalists: A.C. Flora High School seniors Lauren Amrol, Chloe L. Courtney Bohl, Thomas H. Kepley and Elizabeth P. Thomas, along with Dreher High School students Julian J. Ellenberg, Sarah R. Germany, Caroline E. Hynes, Alexander G. Randall, Catherine E. Reid, Mary F. Shavo , David B. Shealy, Johan Willem R. van Rosevelt and Hanah J. Watts.


    • A painting by Dreher High School sophomore Gayle Boyd won double honors in the Youth Art Month Competition sponsored by the South Carolina Art Education Association. In addition to being named first-place winner for the Central Region, the painting won Best of Show for the state.


    • Three Richland One students were elected as state officers of the South Carolina Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (SC FCCLA) for the 2020-2021 school year. Eau Claire High School student Asia Watson is the organization’s first vice president. C.A. Johnson High School freshman Essence McGill is vice president of finance and her classmate sophomore Trinity Anderson is vice president of competitive events.


    • Two young scientists from Dreher High School participated virtually in the 2020 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad April 26 and May 3. The competition, which is sponsored by the American Chemical Society, is designed to stimulate young people to achieve excellence in chemistry. Dreher junior Leon Wangand Dreher senior Jackson Ellenberg qualified for the prestigious competition by having top scores in the South Carolina Chemistry Olympiad, a rigorous online test that covers collegiate-level chemistry.


    • The Air Force JROTC units at C. A. Johnson and Columbia high schools were recognized as being among the best in the world by the United States Air Force. Both programs earned the U.S. Air Force’s 2019-2020 Distinguished Unit Award. This honor is bestowed upon select units that represent the best of the 890 Air Force JROTC units worldwide.


    • To date, five Richland One students were named as winners of the highly prestigious National Merit Scholarship: Dreher High School seniors Catherine Reid, Julian Ellenberg, Sarah Germany and Caroline Hynes, along with A.C. Flora senior Chloe Louise Courtney Bohl.
    • Lower Richland High School students won big at the Virtual South Carolina Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Competition, which tested students online on their knowledge of medical terminology, home health sciences, pharmacy science, epidemiology and other areas. Lower Richland’s HOSA chapter won a total of 21 awards and honors, including a first-place award, two second-place awards and two bronze awards. Eight students placed in the “Top 5” category and six students placed in the state’s Healthcare Issues Exam’s “Top 15%.” In addition to having the most students registered for the virtual competition, Lower Richland took home second-place honors in the HOSA Bowl. Lower Richland student Chloe-Ann Cook also received a bronze medal (Barbara H. James Service Award) for community service hours.

    •  Shawn Norris, physical education teacher at Satchel Ford Elementary School and Richland One’s 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year, was named one of five finalists for South Carolina Teacher of the Year. As a finalist, Coach Norris will receive $10,000 and compete for South Carolina Teacher of the Year.

    • Hand Middle School Latin students picked up gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2019-2020 Medusa Mythology Exam, a national competition for mythology enthusiasts sponsored by the American Classical League. Students taking the online exam received the following awards and recognitions:

      2019-2020 Medusa Mythology Award

      Student/ Grade

      Gold Medal

      Alexander Greytak, sixth grade

      Silver Medal

      Lena Trask-Tafton, eighth grade

      Bronze Medal

      Sara Bobertz, seventh grade

      Bronze Medal

      Josiah Rogers, sixth grade

      Olivae Certificate

      Teniola Babatunde, sixth grade

      Olivae Certificate

      Kendall Gipson, seventh grade

      Laurea Certificate

      Dylan Titpon, eighth grade


    • Southeast Middle School teacher Lekena Ackerman was named the 2020 Middle School Mock Trial Teacher of the Year by the South Carolina Bar Law Related Education (LRE) Division. The award, which includes a $1,000 cash prize and plaque, recognizes teachers who have implemented quality law-related education programs and helped students recognize their legal duties and rights.
    •  Blake Johnson, a rising second-grader at Satchel Ford Elementary School, won first place in the US Kids Golf Tournament June 21 at Mount Vintage Plantation in North Augusta. He has been playing golf since he was two years old.

    • Aniyah Hodges, a rising 10th-grader at W.J. Keenan High School, was recently named a delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into the medical field. The program, sponsored by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, provides a path, plan and resources to help students reach their goals.
    • For the second year in a row, Lower Richland High School track star Tyler Graves has been named Gatorade South Carolina Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Tyler as South Carolina’s best high school boys track and field athlete. As the state winner, he is now a finalist for the prestigious national award to be announced in July.

    • The artwork of A.C. Flora High School students Johnae’ Antionette Wise and Cylyse Malie-Gracie Robinson will be on display in the U.S. Capitol for a year as winners in the 2020 National Congressional Art Competition. These first-year art students had winning entries in their respective congressional districts in this nationwide high school arts competition which recognizes the talent of young artists in South Carolina and across the country.

    • Four Dreher drama students earned superior ratings for outstanding performances and creativity at the first ever Virtual International Thespian Festival held June 22-26:

      • Zuzu Maltarich - Superior in Solo Musical
      • Ellie Thomson - Superior in Solo Musical
      • Anna Swearingen - Superior in Monologues
      • Melody Driggers - Superior in Costume Design


    • Melanie Williams, Eau Claire High School’s family and consumer sciences teacher, was one of 26 teachers in the nation to be named as a Master Adviser by the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). The FCCLA's Master Adviser Award acknowledges innovative teachers who have successfully advised an affiliated chapter for a minimum of three years; continuously promote family and consumer sciences (FCS) education; and motivate and mentor students to reach their highest potential. Thanks to the guidance and groundwork of FCCLA master advisers, students can excel in competitive events, serve in leadership roles, and gain real-world skills through FCS education.


    • A.C. Flora High School graduate Elizabeth P. Thomas, was named as a winner of the highly prestigious National Merit Scholarship. Elizabeth, who plans to pursue a degree in chemical engineering, was awarded the scholarship by Clemson University. To date, six Richland One students have received National Merit Scholarships.
    • Three Dreher High School 2020 graduates—Hanah Watts, David Shealy and Mary Shavo—were named as winners of the highly prestigious National Merit Scholarships financed by colleges and universities. The honors, which recognize outstanding academic achievement, were recently announced by the National Merit Scholarship Program. Hanah and Mary were awarded scholarships by the University of South Carolina. David won a scholarship from Wofford College. To date, nine Richland One students have received National Merit Scholarships. Other district winners were announced earlier this summer.