Lowcountry’s finest celebrate

Roselyn Hashley, a student at Fort Dorchester Elementary, dances Monday with other students. The school is one of four in the Lowcountry that were named Palmetto’s Finest on Monday.

Being introduced as “Hannah Middle School” during the live-stream announcement of the Palmetto’s Finest Awards on Monday only dampened the spirits of the faculty, students and parents in attendance momentarily.

All was forgotten as soon as Hanahan Middle School was announced, correctly, as the middle school winner, joining three other Lowcountry schools among the five winners of this year’s awards. Faculty, staff, students and parents who had stayed after school to watch the announcement in the school’s media center sprang to their feet, hugging and high-fiving.

Hanahan Middle was joined by Marrington Middle School of the Arts as Berkeley County School District’s winners. Dorchester District 2 schools Fort Dorchester Elementary and Ashley Ridge High also won. The other winner was Hammond Hill Elementary School of Aiken County School District.

“Not only did we rock, but so did the whole Lowcountry,” said Berkeley Assistant Superintendent Archie Franchini, who was on hand at Hanahan Middle.

This is the first time in the program’s 35-year history that Berkeley County has had a winner.

“We are incredibly proud of Hanahan Middle School and Marrington Middle School of the Arts for meeting the high standards of this prestigious award,” said Berkeley Superintendent Rodney Thompson. “For both of these schools, this honor reflects the hard work of students, outstanding school leadership, and ongoing collaboration among staff, parents and community leaders.”

In Dorchester County, 10 of 20 eligible schools now hold the designation, Dorchester 2 Supertintendent Joe Pye said.

“I am so thrilled to have two schools win this,” Pye said. “Both are so deserving and so representative of our district.”

The S.C. Association of School Administrators presents the awards each year to schools which offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs.

The 20-page application, which was filled out this year by 18 schools across the state, includes elements on student achievement, instructional programs, professional learning communities and school culture.

The awards are presented after extensive evaluations by fellow educators and previous Palmetto’s Finest winners.

“The Palmetto’s Finest award winners represent the many innovative schools in our state,” said Molly Spearman, SCASA executive director. “They are community centers of learning where students are given personalized instruction and high expectations.”