The McDuffie County Board of Education sent many congratulations to student achievers during their April 19 work session.

Madison Hathaway was named THS valedictorian, and Cambriea Little was named salutatorian. 

They also congratulated Lauren-Claire Roberson for receiving STAR Student and she named Erin White her STAR Teacher.

The school board also congratulated the winners from the Laws of Life essay writing contest. London Jackson was the ninth-grade and school level winner. Devon Belton was the tenth-grade winner, Bryson Massey was the eleventh-grade winner, and Raymond Ray was the twelfth-grade winner. Destiny Hall, Jake Bennett, and Traciona Tate-Jones were honorable mentions for the ninth grade.

Madison Craft and Jaycie Hayward were tenth grade honorable mentions. Demarcus Moss and Camryn Winfrey were the eleventh-grade honorable mentions. Kayla Mays and Holland Dirlam were the honorable mentions for the twelfth grade.

They also sent their congratulations to Megan Ebenroth and Seth Adams who were recognized as the Rotary Youth Leadership Award winners. This is an intensive experience organized by the Rotary Club to help students improve and develop their skills when it comes to communication and problem solving. The winners will travel to Tallulah Falls in May for a four-day leadership session as the Thomson Rotary Club Representatives.

Norris Elementary School had a few students finish in first place in their grade for the Morris Museum of Art’s Combining Voice Literary Competition. Rylan Johnson, 5th grade, and Patrick Meyer, 4th grade, will be honored in May at the awards ceremony. 

The Thomson High School NJROTC Drone team earned first place in their first year of competition at the McEachern High School Drone Competition and third place in the Chapel Hill High School Drone Competition. 

The Drone Team qualified for the NJROTC Area-12 Drone Championship and placed third overall.

The Drill Team finished second overall at the Cross Creek NS1 Challenge. The Color Guard earned second place, while the Armed Squad placed in second, as well.

Isabella Ledford was one of the recipients for the $2,500 scholarship from Jefferson Energy Cooperative, who sponsor a summer youth leadership tour.

In other business

Copies of the GSBA Self-Assessment form will be distributed to the governance team and be completed to maintain the Exemplary Board status.

The Office of Auxiliary Services discussed the Supply Chain Assistance Grant. The district applied for and received a grant for $72,819 to offset the costs of supply chain disruptions because of the pandemic.

Hunter Bruce, THS student, will present a project proposal for Thomson High School.

Athens Janitor Supply submitted a letter to renew to continue providing janitorial supplies. This would see a 5.26 percent increase over the previous year. The contact would be $93,195.84.

The board received the official approval of the Alternative Fuel Grant, which allows up to five propane buses at an amount of $8,000 per bus. 

Dr. Neal Tam, Office of Administrative Services, provided an update on the Stadium Lightning project.

Dr. Lynn Cato, Office of Curriculum and Instruction, provided the updates on professional development, parent engagement events, and assessment for the month of April.

An update was given on the Lead the Way Project.

Cato gave the results from the Cognia Accreditation Report, and McDuffie County’s results came back with a score that was above average. McDuffie County’s Index of Education Quality score was 386.94, with 400 being the maximum score. The school system also earned high ratings on 30 out of the 31 standards.

The board discussed fundraiser requests for Thomson High School and Thomson-McDuffie Middle School.

The board was informed about several grant increases. One increase was $393 for the ESSER ARP Homeless Children and Youth, and the other was for FY21 IDEA 611 Carryover Adjustment for $16,314.

A $2,000 retention supplement will be paid to all employees, which will be requested to be approved by the board.

This includes full-time, part-time, return to work retirees, long-term permanent substitutes, and long-term contracted employees. Funds to cover this will be paid up to $113,746 from the general fund, $962,028 from the Governor’s supplement grants, and up to $216,915 from the ESSER III (ARP) funds. 

These will be issued on April 29.