Education notebook | Conway schools choose attendance area focus

Each of Horry County Schools’ attendance areas has been working to create a greater sense of community by creating signature programs that have an educational edge of distinction for their cluster, and the Conway area revealed its focus this week.

After seven months of work, district officials said Tuesday night that the focus at Conway-area schools revolves around the tenets of technology, leadership and career, and college readiness.

“The school leaders are excited, as is the community, about the idea of a K-12 focus,” said Velna Allen, HCS executive director for high schools. She said the cluster’s principals even designed buttons with the slogan “Eight schools, one community ... Conway” for all the attendees.

Allen said meetings will begin in January to determine how the tenets will be implemented in the cluster’s schools. Other attendance areas that have defined a focus include the Myrtle Beach cluster, which adopted the Covey Leadership model; the schools in the Loris area, which are working toward a medical magnet program; and the Carolina Forest-area schools, which have chosen the fine arts.

Holiday shows on tap at schools



Early College class holds donation drive

Students in Renee Atkinson’s English class at Early College High School are having a donation drive for their service learning project, “Helping the Helpless Become Heroes,” and are inviting the community to help.

Class members are working with Sea Haven, active-duty military members and veterans, and they are collecting toiletries, nonperishable goods, toys and Christmas cards.

Items may be dropped off at the front office of the school, 2050 U.S. 501 E., Conway. For more information, contact Isabelle Walker at or 843-492-1093, or Atkinson at

Black Water teams place in robotics competition

Robotics teams at Black Water Middle School made a name for themselves last weekend at regional competition in Florence. The Return of the Robo-Bears team placed second overall and earned a bid to the state competition in February. The school’s second team, the Robo- Bears, placed second in the project category. Black Water’s robotics program is sponsored by Time Warner Cable.

Horry school, district staff help for holidays

• North Myrtle Beach Elementary School students, parents, teachers, staff and community members collected 5,741 nonperishable food items for North Strand Helping Hand, the most in the nine years the school has collected food for a community service project.

Col. Richard Slater and NJROTC cadets from North Myrtle Beach High School assisted students in packing four truckloads of food items that were picked up by Helping Hand.

The district’s human resources and finance departments started the initiative, which will run through Tuesday to provide a second donation of nonperishable food items to support CAP during the Christmas holidays. Collection boxes are available at the district office and in the maintenance and transportation departments.

Technology awards go to Horry County Schools staff

Horry County Schools’ teachers and administrators were honored for advancements made in technology at the Grand Strand Technology Council’s annual Leadership and Innovation Awards held Nov. 28 at the Horry Georgetown Technical College Conference and Business Center in Myrtle Beach.

HCS employees won four out of 11 awards in five categories – innovation, business growth and new marketing initiatives, education, charity and community Involvement, and Entrepreneur of the Year. Nine of the 17 finalists for awards were staff members of the district office or schools.

Charles Hucks, HCS executive director of technology, won the Innovation in Technology Award for leading the district’s 25-member technology team to implement online registration, a new parent and employee notification system, modern technology infrastructure at new schools, new learning management systems, an online program to integrate training, staff development and essential documents, and the launch of new district and school websites.

Three educators won Technology in Education awards. Sie Gilbert, HCS instructional technology coordinator, was recognized for working to integrate Apple technology into classrooms with teachers to gain access to new tools, applications and digital content to support instruction. Darcy Jones, first-grade teacher at Seaside Elementary School, created multiple digital instructional plans that she has shared with more than 900 teachers. Bucky Sellers, a pre-engineering teacher at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology, was recognized for 19 years of dedicated service to his students and for coaching and mentoring the school’s robotics team. He has been instrumental in developing robotics programs throughout the district and for recruiting the 2013 FIRST Palmetto Regional Robotics Competition to Myrtle Beach. The event will be held Feb. 28 through March 2 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Other finalists representing HCS in the Technology in Education category were Karen McIlrath, Horry County Board of Education; James Page, HCS Adult and Community Education; Stacie Pfeifer, Forestbrook Elementary School; Jennifer Pierce, Loris High School; Virginia Simmons, HCS Adult and Community Education; and Javier Vega, Peggy Ryals and Melissa Shamel, Myrtle Beach High School.

Chad Smith, HCS Technology Specialist III, was a finalist for the Business Growth and New Marketing Initiatives award.