Get on the bus to learning

More than a few heads turned earlier this month in Sun City Hilton Head when a fleet of school buses turned off U.S. 278, passed through the security gates and entered a community where a school bus is a rarity.

The buses were bringing teachers and administrators from Jasper County School District to a district-wide assembly. Magnolia Hall was decked out with balloons and ribbons as more than 400 staff and teachers gathered to prepare for a new school year.

"Teacher's hands are precious hands, said Kathleen Snooks, chair of the district's board of trustees. "They are used to mold their students' characters."

Hardeeville's Harmonizing Hurricanes, a trio of talented young singers, performed the national anthem and other music. Their performance brought everyone to their feet. A group of Ridgeland middle and high school students also provided music, including an original composition on the African drums.

Stephen Peters, an educator and author of "Do You Know Me Well Enough to Teach Me?" provided motivation and inspiration.

"This is the year in Jasper County where tradition meets progress," Peters said. "Look those children in the eyes on that first day of school and tell them: 'When I am through with you at the end of the year, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anything, dream anything because there's no one who's going to deliver to you anything better than what I am going to deliver to you.'"

Jerel Lee, a 2011 Ridgeland High graduate and a Bill Gates Millennium Scholars for 2011, spoke, thanking his teachers who inspired him to learn. The scholarship will pay for all of his college expenses through an anticipate doctorate in medicine.

Volunteers are needed to work with students at the Hardeeville Schools campus. Details:: 843-784-8400 (elementary) or 843-784-8600 (middle and high school).