Beech Hill Elementary School in Dorchester District 2 is one of nine South Carolina schools named finalists for the 2012 Palmetto's Finest Schools Awards by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.

The awards are presented each year to two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.

One of the fastest-growing schools in the district with 1,150 students, Beech Hill is a 4K-5 school that opened in 1992. Under the leadership of Principal Rene Harris, the school has been a leader in offering single-gender classes that has earned recognition from the state Department of Education.

The selection process includes a comprehensive review of the school's programs, student achievement, faculty training, teaching quality, office practices and community involvement. The finalists will have a second onsite evaluation.

The other finalists are Brushy Creek Elementary, Greenville County; Burgess Elementary, Horry County; Stone Academy of Communication Arts, Greenville County; Beaufort Middle, Beaufort County; Kelly Mill Middle, Richland 2; Blythewood High, Richland 2; Fort Mill High, York 4; and Hilton Head Island High, Beaufort County.

An announcement of the top four schools will be made on March 27.