Students at Beaufort County's public schools will don their uniforms, grab their lunch boxes and sling backpacks over their shoulders as they head into the first day of school today. Classes at several private schools also start this week.
Students might have spent their summers at camps, on vacation, at the beach or just hanging out, but teachers and school staff were busy with a few changes. Sharpen those pencils, students, and look out for the following:
Riverview Charter School has moved into the old Shell Point Elementary School at 81 Savannah Highway. Riverview officials have said they looked forward to having a gym, media center and a larger cafeteria. There's about double the number of classrooms available than at the school's former space on Burroughs Avenue. The school is leasing the Shell Point building from the school district for two years.
Former Shell Point Elementary School students are headed to other district schools today. Many of the students will attend Broad River Elementary School, though some also will attend Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary and Robert Smalls Middle schools.
Some students at Beaufort County School District middle schools and high schools will begin using iPads this year, with some schools rolling out the devices this week. District officials hope the touch-screen tablets will allow teachers to try new ways of teaching and keep students engaged.
It's the first ever day of school for some schools. Holy Trinity Classical Christian School, sponsored by the Parish Church of St. Helena, opens today in the building on Burroughs Avenue vacated by Riverview. The school is leasing the space from the school district for three years. It will offer a classical education -- including lessons in Latin and logic -- to students in preschool through fifth grade. Also opening today is the Royal Live Oaks Academy of Arts and Science Public Charter School in Hardeeville. Students in kindergarten through eighth-grade will trade homework for a longer school day, and classes focus on project-based learning.
Fifth-graders in the Battery Creek cluster are headed to Robert Smalls Middle School, instead of elementary schools. The school has been divided into Robert Smalls Intermediate School -- which consists of fifth- and sixth-graders -- and Robert Smalls Middle School for the seventh- and eighth-graders. The schools have different start and dismissal times, and their classes are in different wings.
Some Robert Smalls students are getting their first brush with military science. Seventh- and eighth-grade students can participate in the school's new military-science program. District officials hope the program will improve students' leadership skills and help them make the jump to Battery Creek High School, which has a large and active JROTC program.
New principals are in place at five schools. Corey Murphy is Beaufort High School's new principal. Pat Freda will lead Bluffton Middle School. Jo Shirley has moved to Shanklin Elementary from Port Royal Elementary, and Chavon Browne will lead Port Royal Elementary. Deonia Simmons is the new director of the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence.
Montessori classes are now offered for kindergarten through fifth-graders at Beaufort Elementary School. Previously, the program was offered to first- and second-graders, but the change was made so students could continue in the Montessori style of learning.
Battery Creek High students can take college courses in aviation through Embry-Riddle University this year. Two courses will be offered, and will teach students about aviation careers, flying and aviation operations.
Riverview approves lease of Shell Point Elementary with one change; March 13, 2012
New Beaufort private school to move into Riverview's building; May 6, 2012
Charter school in Jasper County selects first student body; March 14, 2012
Military science program planned for Robert Smalls Middle; March 12, 2012
Montessori program at Beaufort Elementary to double in size next year; Feb. 6, 2012
College-level aviation classes to be offered to students at Battery Creek; May 16, 2012