News and Updates - Edgefield County School District (2024)


Michael Rosier

News and Updates - Edgefield County School District (2)

Trenton, SC – The hallways and classrooms at Douglas Elementary School (DES) were filled with fun math puzzles and eye-opening science experiments during Math & Science Night on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.

After picking up your map of exhibits and stations located throughout the school, you were off on your own hand-picked adventure. There were age-specific math escape rooms, mystery boxes, experiments, planetary weight scales, forestry, multiplication bingo, environmental safety and more for everyone to explore.

Earlier in the evening, DES third grader, Kyra Williams, said an escape room was her favorite stop, but later that had changed (though she still enjoyed the escape room very much).

“Now it’s Smokey the Bear and the solar eclipse exhibit,” stated Kyra.

For fourth grader, Briley Banks, her favorite stop was the “Magic Milk” science experiment exploring surface tension with vivid colors.

“My colors were blue and red,” commented Briley. “I had a great time.”

Briley’s mom, Anntria Banks, did as well.

“It was very fun and informative,” stated Banks. “I learned about how your weight would change if you were to stand on the different planets in the solar system, and that was very interesting. I weighed a lot on some of the planets.”

“I think I’m going to Venus now,” she added with a laugh. “We try to come to this event every year and I’m glad we came out again this year.”

The event was very well attended, as most DES events are, but the excitement in the air was palpable, even for a visiting administrator in ECSD’s Director of Federal Programs, Dr. Cherya Clark. Clark said she came away impressed, both by the quality of the exhibits and the joy she found on the faces of DES students and parents around every corner.

“I really enjoyed it myself and I saw a lot of excitement from the children and the parents like it too,” commented Clark. “Everyone enjoyed all the hands-on things they had available. I really liked the do it yourself lava lamps. I think it’s a big help for parents because they can see math and science in action and also pick up some things, you know, that they can do at home to reinforce what their children are learning in school.”

Thank you to everyone at DES and our special guests for making Math & Science so special.

  • DES

Strom Thurmond High School Mock Trial Team Wins South Carolina Record 10th State Championship and will Compete in National Finals May 2-5 in Delaware

Michael Rosier

News and Updates - Edgefield County School District (4)

Columbia, SC - The Strom Thurmond High School Mock Trial Team captured its state record 10th state championship on Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Columbia, S.C., and was later honored by members of the S.C. State Senate for their achievement on Thursday, March 21, 2024.

The team now advances to the mock trial national competition in May, when the Delaware Law Related Education Center, Inc. will host the 2024 National High School Mock Trial competition in Wilmington, DE, on May 2-5, 2024.

Strom Thurmond Mock Trial team members include Mina Allen, Raina Barrs, Elizabeth Busby, Joseph Greene, Julianne Harper, Carter Massey, Olivia O'Gorman, Kimberly Ramirez, Toney Robinson, Klara Rochau, Emma Smith, Lilly Smith, Evan Williams, Autumn Wingard and Eriz Zelmer. Team coaches include teacher coach, Thomas Behr; attorney coach, Blair Massey; and assistant coaches Denise Jackson, Steve McKinney and Derek Rhodes.

“I have been beyond impressed and thoroughly pleased with the desire of these students to improve and compete,” stated Behr, who is in his first season as the team’s teacher coach. “They have been wonderful to work with and they continue to work very hard.”

“Every single year these students rise to the occasion, and they are fantastic,” added Massey, who also serves on the Edgefield County Board of Education. “They continue to amaze me.”

The High School Mock Trial (HSMT) Program is a hands-on exercise in learning about due process. It is most often conducted as an extracurricular school activity.

According to the South Carolina Bar Association, which organizes and leads HSMT, the goal of the program is to educate students regarding the American judicial system and the mechanics of litigation. Through participation in the Mock Trial program, students increase basic skills such as listening, speaking, writing, reading, critical thinking and problem analysis.

Each participating school enters a team sponsored by a teacher volunteer that is composed of between seven and 18 students. Teams try each year's fictitious case against other teams at regional competitions in February. The top 12 teams compete at the state championship in March. The South Carolina Bar High School Mock Trial champion represents South Carolina at the National High School Mock Trial Championship, Inc.

The Rebels have now earned the title of South Carolina Mock Trial State Champions in 2024, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2017, 2015, 2012, 1987, 1985 and 1984. Additionally, Strom Thurmond High School was the South Carolina state runner-up in 2014 and 2011.

Strom Thurmond Mock Trial advanced to this school year’s state competition by placing first at the Lexington Region Mock Trial competition. An added highlight from that event included the Rebels earning the Lexington Regional’s “Professionalism and Civility Award”.

  • STHS

Talented Cast will Transform Strom Thurmond High School Theatre Stage to Streets of Agrabah when Production of ‘Aladdin, Jr.’ Begins this Weekend

Michael Rosier

News and Updates - Edgefield County School District (6)

Johnston, SC –A whole new world awaits fans of the Disney classic filmAladdinwhen another talented Strom Thurmond High School Theatre cast brings the fantastical streets and familiar personalities of Agrabah to life this weekend with the production of the musical,Aladdin, Jr.

Public shows begin Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 21, 2024, at 3:30 p.m. Shows will continue next weekend, on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 28, 2024, at 3:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at

Strom Thurmond High School Theatre director, Steven McKinney, says this school year’s spring production will be sure to capture and delight patrons with everything held dear by fans of the beloved film, with a few surprises to be sure.

“We’re really excited about it,” stated McKinney. “There are so many good things about this show. I love the music and the way the cast is producing it and I think it’s going to be really magical.”

While he has directedAladdin, other time during his career, McKinney says the current show will be a totally new experience for everyone.

“The last time we did this one it was in the school cafetorium, so we had a much smaller set, and we didn’t have the props we have now,” commented McKinney. “We’re doing it on a real stage this time, so it has to be bigger and better. We’ve made some changes, good changes, based on what we experienced last time, and we’re using projections this time.”

Leading the cast are student actors who need no introduction to the Strom Thurmond High School Theatre stage; Dawson Kulp and Ella Mathis Miller, as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, Respectively.

The duo previously worked together in an outstanding collaborative performance of the lead roles in STHS Theatre’s successful fall (2023) production ofBeauty and the Beast. On the strength of that performance, Dawson, now a senior, was offered a scholarship by the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, and he plans to attend the conservatory this fall.

“One of my favorite parts of the production is when Aladdin is called a street rat, and he’s not a street rat, he’s just trying to survive,” commented McKinney. “He wants to make his mom proud of him, and she’s been dead and gone for a while, but when Dawson sings the song ‘Proud of your Boy’ it’s just a touching, touching moment and Dawson does a superb job drawing into all the emotion in that song.”

The character of Jasmine offers plenty of strength and emotional range for Ella, who was also a conservatory scholarship recipient, to explore and tap into on stage.

“Jasmine has a lot of sweetness inside her, but she also has a very strong and independent personality,” added McKinney. “She does not want to have to marry these people in order to rule, but then she meets Aladdin and shows a calmness and coolness and sweet emotion. Ella does a great job portraying that. There is a lot of independence to Ella as well.”

Additional cast members include Reece Lowe (Genie), Jenasys Washington (Babkak), Mina Allen (Omar), Makayla Rushton (Kassim), Mason Toothman (Mason Toothman), Evan Williams (Jafar), Olivia O’Gorman (Iago), Shamarion Freeman (Shop Owner), Kersten Skinner (Razoul), Jericka Jones (Guard 1), Klara Rachau (Guard 2), Riley Brightharp (Beggar 1), Gillian O’Gorman (Beggar 2), Truman Massey (Beggar 3), Hannah Jane Dyches (Apple Vendor), Erin Williams (Fortune Teller), Jayden Augustin (Attendant 1), Dallas Norris (Attendant 2), Nate Millings (Prince Abdullah), Sunaisia Saxon (Isir), Molly Harling (Manal), Natalie Dolph (Rajah), Jayden Smith (Spooky Voice), Erin Williams (Soloist 1), Hannah Dyches (Soloist 2) and Breylie Hodson (Soloist 3). Students performing as the residents of Agrabah include Kaylee Hallman, Zemira Wakefield, Aundria Davis, Mary Ann Bunch, Peyton Gregory, Mirayah Clarke, Jayden Smith, Lindy O’Sullivan, Dylan Rose, Mariah Norris and Tatiana Grant.

  • ECSD
  • STHS

Science Teacher April Tomkinson is Making a Big Difference (In Dollars and Sense) at J-E-T Middle School

Michael Rosier

News and Updates - Edgefield County School District (8)

Johnston, SC– Johnston-Edgefield-Trenton (J-E-T) Middle School Science teacher April Tomkinson cannot imagine doing anything else other than teaching. Now in her third year as an educator, she enters each school day with a profound appreciation for the positive impact she is able to have on her students.

However, something was missing from her science classroom that may surprise you – art supplies.

“The science and engineering practice that we use a lot in science is learning how to create models,” stated Tomkinson. “If they have to create a lot of models, some students like to use a lot of colors, and so having paper for that or a poster for a class presentation is something they really need. Having all of those resources, like colored pens and paper, is important.”

For Tomkinson, a current recipient of the Teacher’s Vision Grant offered by the Foundation for Public Education in Edgefield County (FPSEC), providing those materials is not just about funding supplies for students who may not be able to purchase them. It’s also about efficiency and convenience.

“Some of our students may not have the money for those things, and even if they do, they may not always bring what they need to class that day,” commented Tomkinson. “Having all of those things always available in a station in our classroom when they need it is important. They know I will have what they need when they need it. Even if it’s for another class, they are welcome to use those resources.”

“Having the support of local businesses and individuals through the foundation and Teacher’s Vision Grants lets teachers know they are supported and that there is someone in the local community who wants to supply what they need to enhance their learning environments,” she added. “It helps teachers know they are not alone in the community.”


The $1,000 local grant has only been the starting point for Tomkinson, however, who has also received state and national grants during this school year – to the tune of $9,200. These have included a national Toshiba America Foundation Grant ($,4,700) and a state education Growing in STEM Grant ($3,500).

Tomkinson will use the Toshiba grant primarily to purchase Polaroid cameras and digital cameras, while the state STEM grant will be used to buy beading ink pens and other supplies.

“One of our science standards is helping students make sense of how digital technology is used for data transfer and data storage and how waves factor into all of that,” stated Tomkinson. “With the STEM grant we will use the beading pens to explore human genetics and reproduction to better understand why each of us are so unique and special. For example, we will use Punnett squares and then pens to show how the color of our eyes is determined by our parents.”

“I’m really excited to bring these things into my classroom, and I am so appreciative for these grant awards,” she added.

Overall, during her short time in the classroom, she has received over $16,000 in grant funding.


Grant writing can require many hours preparing eye-catching, standards-based projects and filling out lots of paperwork and grant applications. So, why does she do it?

“I love teaching,” commented Tomkinson. “I love what I do. So, if there’s anything I can do to make it better or make my instruction more fun and engaging, then that’s what I’m going to do. At the beginning of the school year when we were learning about physics, we were crashing 3D cars and then using 3D pens to print solutions in more cars, and then we crashed them again. Oh my goodness, all of a sudden, science was great. They loved science.”

Art supplies, digital cameras, beading ink pens and more – all making a big difference in a science classroom.

“Writing grants can be intimidating, but they’re really not that hard,” added Tomkinson. “If you have a great idea, go for it.”

  • ECSD
  • JET

Johnston Elementary Students Celebrate African American Achievements During Black History Learning Walk

Michael Rosier

News and Updates - Edgefield County School District (10)

Johnston, SC– Standing poised and calm in a noisy hallway beneath a picture of famed poet Maya Angelou, Johnston Elementary School (JES) fifth-grade student Ta’niylah Jeffery focused instead on her written words.

Black History Month is for heroes. There is more than zero.

Harriet made the Underground Railroad.

She helped loads.

Martin Luther King had a dream.

That helped out some things.

Rosa, she didn’t want to sit in the back.

Jesse Owens, he ran track.

Lucy Stanton was the first black woman to attend college. She had a lot of knowledge.

George Speck made the chip.

Nowadays, people eat with dip.

Madam CJ was the first black self-made female millionaire selling products for hair.

All of these heroes

Encourage me to have career goals.

Having finished reading her poem – entitled “Black History Heroes” – Ta’niylah smiled and looked toward her next reading. She was just one of the many student performers featured during Johnston Elementary School’s Black History Learning Walk (2/27/24). JES students researched and learned about the many important achievements and contributions of African Americans, and then they shared what they had learned with their families and the community.

Those who attended the event were treated to performances by the JES Chorus, living history performances by students who portrayed Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and student art (to include posters, pottery and more) created specifically for the learning walk.

Featured performances and displays included all JES students, from Ta’niylah and her classmates in fifth grade to students of teachers Angela Fallaw and Kim Gilley in Kindergarten and 4K, respectively.

“We focused on peacemakers and how we can be peacemakers, and then peacemakers in history, specifically, Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks,” stated Fallaw. “We’ve learned about them, and they’ve written about them, and today we’re celebrating all the children have learned.”

“We read books about Jackie Robinson, Garrett Morgan and Mae Jemison,” commented Gilley. “Then each child made a book about them, and they made crafts to help them remember that Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light and Mae Jemison went into space, because they know Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play Major League Baseball.”

  • ECSD
News and Updates - Edgefield County School District (2024)


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