New state school buses are now in Horry and Georgetown counties and soon will be on the roads, after final inspections and employee training are completed.
Horry County Schools has 18 of the new buses, while four are in the Georgetown County School District, school officials said. All of the buses, which have a smaller capacity, will be used to transport special needs students.
The S.C. Department of Education announced last month it would receive 342 new school buses, the first significant purchase of newly manufactured school buses in four years for what is the only state-run bus fleet in the nation. The new buses replace models that date as far back as 1984, are more fuel-efficient and less expensive to maintain.
Transportation Manager Karen M. Wilson said she was just getting the details on Georgetown County’s buses and hadn’t decided exactly where they would be deployed, although she said they will be used on the outskirts of the county. Teal Harding, HCS spokeswoman, said that school district still is awaiting three of its buses, but nine will go to each of the area’s two state bus shops, located in Socastee and Conway.
Harding said every special education student does not ride a special education bus, but the vehicles are equipped for those students who need accommodations for their disabilities, whether a wheelchair or special seat harness is needed. She said the district serves children as young as 3 years old who are identified for programs, and each bus carries an aide in addition to the driver.
The buses are getting their final checks, and state officials will train drivers on the vehicles’ updated features, said Mike Bullman, director of maintenance for the education department. Dates have not been set for training, but once it’s completed, the buses will go into operation.
Area teams shine in FIRST LEGO League event
Two area robotics teams have moved ahead in the S.C. FIRST LEGO League after scoring the top points totals at the Horry qualifying event held Jan. 11 at Coastal Carolina University.
The Bay Bots from Horry County Schools’ Ocean Bay Elementary School and the Mega Minibots from Waccamaw Intermediate School in Georgetown County will move on to the state event for the league, which is a worldwide competition designed for students ages 9 to 14. Team members learn about engineering and robotics as they design their own solutions to a real-world problem.
Twenty-three teams – including some from as far away as Mount Pleasant – participated in the Horry event for the chance to compete at a higher level. Six teams with the top overall rankings in the qualifier were chosen for the state contest. First- and second-place trophies also were awarded in four categories and for champion spots, which put more HCS teams in the winners’ circle. They were:
• Ocean Bay Elementary’s Bay Bots, which won champion and first place for robot performance.
• Waccamaw Intermediate’s Mega Minibots, which won runner-up champion and second place for robot performance.
• River Oaks Elementary School’s RiverRovers, which won second place for robot design.
• St. James Middle School, which won second place in core values.
• River Oaks Elementary’s OtterBots, which won first place in project.
The state competition will be held Feb. 23 at White Knoll High School in Lexington.
Open houses set for Myrtle Beach academy
The Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology will hold two open houses for families to learn more about the school’s majors and STEM program. The open houses will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 and Feb. 7 at the school, 895 International Drive, Myrtle Beach.
The STEM program is for rising ninth-grade students who are interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Rising 11th-graders can choose a program from the following majors: art, entertainment technology, pre-engineering, pre-medicine, web and digital communications, and theatre. Applications for all AAST programs are due Feb. 15.
Academy team plunges for Special Olympics
More than 100 plungers and volunteers from the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology participated in the school’s second “Freezin’ for a Reason Polar Plunge” to raise money for the S.C. Special Olympics. AAST students and staff surpassed their goal of $2,000 by raising $3,760. The team’s “highest plunger” this year was freshman Luke Rankin, who raised more than $500.
“We just keep getting better and bigger,” said Cricket Barnes, team captain. “I am so proud of the AAST team!”
Team AAST adults included: Barnes, Dave Barnes, Hudson Barnes, Lawson Barnes, Robin Jones, Jayson Powers, Bambi Condrey, Mary Beth Roach, Katie Thompson, Cathy DeSimone, Michelle Cline, B.J. Scott, Jennifer Rabon, William Kornegay, Jennifer Scott, Rebecca Carter, Mindi Penn, Terrele and Kesha Carey, Scott Simon, Shannon King, Kristel Darling, Sheila McLennan and JoLea Wegner.
Team AAST students were: seniors Jordan McMahan, Ashley DiPalma, Samantha Erwin, Kayli Hughes, Cameron Bartlett, Rachael Boswell, Nicole Freede, Ashley Kearnes, Tyler Osiecki, Daniel Rojas, Faith Ruska, Casey Scully, Christina Teruel, Donnie Vaught and Brandon Linquito; juniors Sora Lebowitz, Kylie Cracknell, Savannah Williams, Miranda Becker, Jessie Elia, Elijah Hockensmith, Kalei Strange and Charles Daniele; sophomores Justin Yazici, Brandon Gore, Tanner Keast, Jay Gohil, Elizabeth Snyder-Mounts, Ian Dorman, Catherine Meeks, Mary Clare Brophy, MacKenzie King, Ian Dorman, Kiera Poole and Peyton Poole; and freshmen Matt Steighner, Adam Swanson, Brandon Lynch, Luke Rankin, Amadeus Smallwood, Kylie Wehunt and John Chambers. We had three 8th graders from Ocean Bay Middle school: Kyle and Brandon Daniele and Jessica Ruska.