September 20, 2014

Coker cuts ribbon on largest expansion in college’s history


Louise and Harris DeLoach cut the ribbon on the facility bearing their name Friday (Image: Coker College)

Louise and Harris DeLoach cut the ribbon on the facility bearing their name Friday (Image: Coker College)

Coker College officials dedicated a new $12 million state-of-the-art athletic center in a ceremony Friday.

The Harris and Louise DeLoach Center is now the largest building on the private campus in Hartsville. The new center will host indoor athletics facilities and a fitness center for the school’s roughly 1,200 students.

College president Robert Wyatt said the school already knew its old gym was woefully inadequate when he took the post in 2010. “We’ve been playing in an outdated gym,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “We had a seating capacity of about 400 and it was not air-conditioned.”

So the small school sought out donations, turning towards former Sonoco Corporation CEO and Chairman Harris DeLoach, a philanthropist who frequently donates to education efforts in the Hartsville area. Wyatt said DeLoach and his wife Louise’s commitment helped bring other donors forward, making the school’s current $21 million building campaign possible.

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Coroner: Teen who died on Broome High School track likely had heart issue

The Spartanburg County Coroner said Thursday that a high school student who died after collapsing on the track at Broome High School may have suffered a fatal heart-related issue, but more tests are needed to confirm it.

Coroner Rusty Clevenger said 14-year-old Chaquantei Fowler of Cowpens was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital around 3:41 Wednesday afternoon. Spartanburg County School District 3 had previously said the ninth-grader suffered a medical emergency while on the track. School personnel and emergency medical service workers tried unsuccessfully to revive the teen.

Clevenger said a microscopic analysis will have to be performed before he can give a more definitive cause of death, but said preliminary indications are that Fowler had a heart-related issue. He ruled out any foul play.

School district officials said they will honor Fowler prior to the start of the Broome-Chesnee football game on Friday night.

“We offer our deepest prayers and sympathies to this student, his family, and Broome students and faculty,” the school district said in its statement revealing the death.

ACT scores hold steady as more students take test in SC

The average composite scores among high school seniors taking the ACT college placement exam in South Carolina held steady in 2014, although they did drop slightly further behind the national average.

The average composite score of 20.4 (out of 36) remained unchanged from the 2012-2013 school year, according to data released by the South Carolina Department of Education on Wednesday. South Carolina’s public school students did increase their mean composite score by 0.1 points to 20.2.

However, South Carolina gave up ground to the nationwide average, which increased from 20.9 to 21.0.

The ACT standardized test is given to high school students to assess their college readiness. It’s scores are often considered by colleges in addition to results from the more popular SAT test. The ACT includes science questions, however, while the SAT does not. The composite score is the total average for a student’s performance in the English, Math, Reading, and Science sections.

The Education Department said more South Carolina students took the ACT in 2014 than ever before. There was a 12.7 percent increase in the number of public school students who took the test in 2014 from a year earlier. There was an 11.3 percent increase in the number of overall students who took the test in 2014.

“South Carolina students are to be commended for their performance on the 2014 ACT test,” State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais said in a statement. “While South Carolina’s average ACT composite score was slightly under the national average, its proximity proves that we are making progress.  These are positive results that we can build on for the future.”

The ACT tests students in four subject areas: .  While composite statewide students’ scores for English and math showed no change from 2013, there was a 0.1 point increase in both reading and science for 2014.

The Governor’s Schools, as is usual, saw the highest composite scores with 27.8. York County School District 4 had the highest among traditional public schools at a 23.3 average. Allendale County School District and Bamberg County District 2 had the lowest scores with 14.4.


Lowcountry teacher excited about ‘Windows to New Worlds’ program

Amy Baldwin

Amy Baldwin

The South Carolina State Museum’s ambitious “windows to New worlds’ project is up and running after a successful opening to the public Saturday. The 75,000 square foot expansion project includes a planetarium, a collection of Historic Astronomy, and an observatory that features a digitized refracting telescope and a fully equipped classroom. The study of various objects in space will reach far beyond the walls of the museum as five teachers participated in a program in late July to learn how to operate the telescope remotely from their respective classrooms across the state. Amy Baldwin of Oakbrook Middle School in Summerville participated in the program. She said she is excited about the learning possibilities for her students.

“It will be very simple to translate back to the student. You’re not going to have to spend a day learning software. It’s kind of a click, point and shoot, and the telescope will actually track the stars or the Sun or whatever you’ve asked it to look at. We did spend a day calibrating the telescope so that it would do that accurately.”

Baldwin is the pre-Engineering and robotics teacher at Oakbrook Middle School. She teaches 6th through 8th grade students.

Baldwin said she and the other teachers were amazed at the sharp details they could see of the Sun and the various planets, and she can’t wait to see how her students will react when they observe the universe up close via the telescope.

“See if we can see any of the sunspots or a planet at night. When i got to see Saturn, as well as Titan and other moons, I was just in awe. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had and for the students to have those same experiences it’s going to be outstanding.

Coming from Dorchester County School District 2, Baldwin said there is no doubt that area students’ interest in science in general, and aeronautics and space in particular, has grown since Boeing arrived in the area.

“It’s encouraging us to do more hands-on to give students the application. Actually by 7th and 8th graders traveled to Boeing to see the plant’s facilities. We also encourage the Boeing volunteers to come into our classroom also. We have a lot of students in my class whose parents are employed by Boeing which is fabulous.”

The school districts participating in the program are Dorchester County 2, Richland County 1, Spartanburg County 7, and York County 3.

Gov. Haley opposes additional loans for SC State University

SC State logoGovernor Nikki Haley has come out against $12 million in proposed loans for financially-troubled South Carolina State University.

A blue ribbon committee appointed by the state legislature proposed the loans to be paid over three years after learning the state’s only public historically -black college had a worse deficit than first realized. The $12 million in aid would be in addition to a $6 million loan approved earlier this year by the Budget and Control Board.

The committee of current and former state college presidents studied the university’s books and found it has an $18 million deficit, not the $13.6 million figure that SC State officials previously used. The State newspaper reported Tuesday that discrepancy was apparently because S.C. State needs to repay money it borrowed from a university community group to help cover previous shortfalls.

The new proposed three-year loans would include $6 million by summer 2015, $4 million during the 2015-2016 fiscal year, and $2 million the third year.

Haley said Tuesday she would not support any additional loans until the university hires a financial consultant, which was a condition of the first loan approved in April.

SC State President Thomas Elzey told WIS-TV that the Budget and Control Board is supposed to hire the consultant using $500,000 from the original loan. “(The committee) understood that we need support, but we’re not in a position to turn around and pay it back tomorrow,” he told the station Monday.

School officials have previously said they will lay off about 90 part-time or temporary employees as part of the debt recovery plan. However, that plan was approved in May, before the additional debt was discovered and before the additional loans were requested.