Midlands’ schools among S.C.’s most ‘family friendly’

Nineteen Midlands’ public schools are among 61 across the state named winners today of the state Department of Education’s annual “Red Carpet” award competition.

The agency sponsors the program to recognize efforts that make schools “family friendly.”

“When parents and citizens feel welcome at a school, when they feel comfortable, then they're much more likely to provide the support that school needs in order to succeed,” state education superintendent Jim Rex said.

Rex’s agency said 270 schools applied for the award last fall. Applicants described “their family-friendly philosophies and environments, along with the methods used to self-evaluate those efforts,” a department spokesman noted. Another requirement was to include a school communication plan.

After initial screening, a panel of judges evaluated how schools treated telephone callers and visitors. Judges did so anonymously, and “site visits were not announced in advance,” a spokesman said.

Among this year's recipients were 41 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, nine high schools and one child-development center.

One was Blaney Elementary in Kershaw County. The education department noted that judges were impressed by the school’s monthly “Family Fun Night,” where dinner is provided, and the computer lab, media center and the Parent Resource Center are open. Students and parents are encouraged to use the school library, “take accelerated readers tests, work in the computer lab or work on a project for class.”

“There's a huge variety among this year's winners,” Rex noted, “and that goes to show that a determined group of people can create a positive atmosphere in any school setting anywhere in South Carolina. It's all about involving parents and community members in what we're trying to accomplish.”

Winners receive a “red carpet” with the state seal that they are encouraged to display in their lobbies. The award is good for three years.

Midlands’ schools on this year’s recognition list include:

  • Kershaw County: Baron DeKalb Elementary, Bethune Elementary, Blaney Elementary, Camden High, Doby's Mill Elementary and Leslie M. Stover Middle;
  • Lexington 1: Oak Grove Elementary;
  • Lexington 2: R. H. Fulmer Middle;
  • Lexington-Richland 5: Dutch Fork Middle and Leaphart Elementary;
  • Richland 2: Anna Boyd Child Development Center, Bethel-Hanberry Elementary, Blythewood High, Blythewood Middle, Forest Lake Elementary, Joseph Keels Elementary, Kelly Mill Middle, Rice Creek Elementary and Richland Northeast High.
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