Does your child have a new principal? Here are three things to know before school starts

Beaufort County School District’s students, teachers and parents are gearing up for the start of the school year on Monday. Here’s what you need to know before school starts.

Five district schools have new principals

Three new principals were approved at the board of education’s Aug. 6 meeting, ending the district’s search to fill five principal vacancies across the county.

Elizabeth Rivera will serve as principal at Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary School, after six years as an assistant principal at the school. She previously worked as a teacher at Beaufort Elementary School and at Robert Smalls Middle School, where she was named 2006-07 teacher of the year.

Melissa Pender is moving to the principal job at Coosa Elementary School. She’s been with the district for 22 years, and worked as a teacher at Coosa before becoming an assistant principal there two years ago.

Alvilda Graham is Beaufort Middle School’s new principal, after four years as an assistant principal at Hilton Head High School. She previously worked at Hilton Head Middle School, and as a teacher in Florence and North Carolina.

Bryan Ryman is moving from Bluffton High School, where he had served as an assistant principal since 2016, to the principalship at River Ridge Academy. He previously worked at H.E. McCracken Middle School and in Ohio as a teacher.

Steven Schidrich will lead Hilton Head Island High School. Schidrich worked there as a teacher for 13 years before becoming an assistant principal at Bluffton Middle School. He was hired after the district began an unprecedented $20,000 national search process to replace former embattled principal Amanda O’Nan.

A new building at Whale Branch

Whale Branch Early College High School is opening its new performing arts center Thursday, with a 4 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony that will include student performances, guest speakers and light refreshments.

The addition, which was estimated to cost $12 million in 2017, comes soon after the school opened its $4.4 million competition gymnasium in December. Both projects were on the ballot for 2016’s $217 million school bond referendum. After the referendum failed, the projects were shifted to 8 percent funding, a yearly process that allows the school district to borrow up to 8 percent of the county’s assessed value for building maintenance.

McCracken follows other middle schools’ lead on early arrivals

H.E. McCracken Middle School is starting a “Bulldog Before School Program” for students who arrive before 8:15 a.m. for the start of school at 8:45 a.m. Students can be dropped off as early as 7:30 a.m. — but parents will have to pay $1 to do so.

With McCracken’s new before-school program, all of Bluffton’s middle schools have one. Parents find them helpful because of the staggered start times for elementary and secondary students.

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Rachel Jones covers education for the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has worked for the Daily Tar Heel and Charlotte Observer. Rachel grew up in Ayden, NC, surrounded by teachers.