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Garden Club Donates Tree to Seneca Middle School

posted by Lee Stephens   [ updated ]

Garden club members and SMS students plant a tree for Arbor Day.
Arbor Day may be a few months away, but recently the timing was just right for two members of the Lake and Hills Garden Club to donate a tree to Seneca Middle School and teach a group of students about the tree-planting process, the proper care of newly-planted trees, and the importance of trees for our environment. President of the club, Lynn Pode, along with club member Maria Calderwood coordinated with 7th grade science teacher Deborah Belflower to create a new home for a small red maple tree in a courtyard of the school’s campus. Mrs. Belflower’s students enthusiastically took turns digging an appropriate-sized hole, placing the tree within it, covering it with soil, and finally giving it water in order to thrive in its new home. These students, along with the rest of the students at the school, can now observe this tree’s growth along with their own.

SMS Women in Charge Soar Over Female Pilots

posted Dec 19, 2019, 5:27 AM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Dec 19, 2019, 5:27 AM ]

Women in Charge
While the number of pilot certificates held by females has certainly increased in the last few decades, according to the latest FAA statistics the percentage of female pilots is still quite small. In fact, just over 6% of pilots are female. Fortunately for a group of young ladies at Seneca Middle School, two of those women pilots, Carrell Dammann and Julie Ibrahim, are local and agreed to come and speak to their Women in Charge mentoring class, which is designed to expose and encourage promising middle school girls to careers in STEM fields. Dammann and Ibrahim not only spoke about their individual pathways and struggles to become a pilot, but also what obstacles keep more women from becoming pilots. They also emphasized the different scientific subjects such as mechanics, radar, and weather which play important roles in safe flight and gave the ladies an idea what a career in aviation might be like.

Dammann and Ibrahim also spoke to the girls about a locally run chapter of a program for young people called Young Eagles. The Young Eagles program gives kids ages 8 to 17 an opportunity to fly in a general aviation airplane and learn about airplanes, runways, and airport functions. They also told the girls about the planes they personally own and how they use them for both personal and professional purposes. Finally, Dammann shared with the girls, “It takes courage to get in an airplane and fly solo, and it takes perseverance to become a pilot; but, great outcomes and experiences open many doors.”

Local Educator Wins Big in Big Game Contest

posted Dec 18, 2019, 7:23 AM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Dec 18, 2019, 7:23 AM ]

Cassie Moore
This season’s Clemson-University of South Carolina football game may have come and gone but the impact will last in a variety of ways. The athletes and fans of the two schools will either continue to tout the win or bemoan the loss. For Seneca Middle School English/Language Arts teacher Cassie Moore, however, the impact will likely take a completely different form. Moore was one of many teachers in South Carolina who encouraged their students to participate in the Read Your Way to the Big Game Contest sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Education. She was recently thrilled to learn she was one of just five educators statewide to win a $500 prize for that participation. Being an enthusiastic lover of books herself and one who has a gift for inspiring a love of reading in her students, Moore undoubtedly has a plan for the prize money that involves books. In fact, Moore said of her win, “I'm so glad that the Seneca Middle School media center promoted this event and supported all the students who participated. It's wonderful to see that everyone knows how important it is to read. The $500 will be used to buy class sets of novels so that all students can enjoy this generous gift.”

SMS Hosts Annual Veterans Day Observance

posted Nov 11, 2019, 1:06 PM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Nov 11, 2019, 1:06 PM ]

Veterans Day Assembly
Any school year is filled with events of all sorts. At Seneca Middle School, one of the most revered events of the year is the observance of Veterans Day. Each year students may invite the veteran(s) in their life to attend a reception and assembly in their honor. This year approximately 60 veterans of all ages gathered in the Media Center to mingle and enjoy a morning snack before heading to the Tim Howard Gymnasium where they were greeted with a standing ovation from the assembled audience of students, faculty, and staff. Upon being seated in places of honor, the visiting veterans were treated to excellent performances of patriotic music performed by the school’s award-winning Honors Chorus, Orchestra, and Symphonic Band programs. The selections included the Armed Service songs during which the veterans stood to be recognized as their service branch’s song was being played. The program ended with each veteran being individually recognized and escorted out of the gym by the student(s) who invited them.

A Call to Action Visits Middle Schools

posted Oct 31, 2019, 9:33 AM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Oct 31, 2019, 9:33 AM ]

Covenant Players
Domestic and dating violence and bullying have no demographic bounds. These scourges of society exist and persist in homes and schools across the country regardless of income, race, heritage, or gender. In Oconee County, the organization, A Call to Action, is working diligently to combat these issues. This year the group is visiting each middle school in the county to bring awareness and share ways to identify and combat these problems. However, instead of providing a lecture or dry reading material to the students, the group is providing an entertaining and engaging way to introduce and discuss the problems.

Recently, a three-person unit from the acting group Covenant Players based in Oxnard, CA presented a series of skits with themes about sexual harassment, bullying, family dysfunction, and substance abuse before assembled groups of students at Seneca Middle, West-Oak Middle, and Walhalla Middle Schools. Following each skit, the troop members addressed the skit’s theme and solicited feedback from the student audience.

Covenant PlayersAccording to A Call to Action member Celeste Norris, “We are putting all of our efforts this year into area schools. We hope that these entertaining presentations will prove to be memorable and provide valuable information and insight for these young people and hopefully produce lasting results in their lives. It takes a community to target these issues and we seek to call people to action wherever they are in the community.” She and organization president Robbin Potrafka accompanied the acting group to each school. Afterwards, upon addressing the students following each session, green wristbands with the words, 'STAND UP, SPEAK OUT!' were made available encouraging all the students to do just that when they encounter any form of bullying.


The Covenant Players, which has been in existence since 1963, not only perform before school groups but also work with the military, prisons, churches, retirement homes, and various organizations serving at risk children. According to troop member Robin Goettl, “We will perform material geared to any theme, any age.” The unit, which performed before these Oconee County schools, consists of Suzanne Goettl, Robin Goettl, and Erin Goettl.

SMS to Show School Spirit

posted Oct 25, 2019, 9:06 AM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Oct 25, 2019, 12:16 PM ]

Spirit Week
The week of October 28 - November 1 is Spirit Week at SMS.  Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in the following theme days to show their support of the Bobcats.  

Monday - Patriotic Day
Tuesday - 80s Day
Wednesday - Pink Out for Breast Cancer or Blue/Gold for the Pep Rally
Thursday - Character/Cartoon Day (be sure to follow the school dress code and no masks are allowed)
Friday - Friday - Sports Day (wear your favorite team jersey or colors)

Seneca Middle School Well Represented at All-County Chorus

posted Oct 9, 2019, 1:05 PM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Oct 9, 2019, 1:05 PM ]

SMS All-County Chorus members
With a tradition of excellence and continued superb direction, it has almost become expected that the ranks of Oconee County’s All-County Middle School Chorus are overwhelming filled with representatives from Seneca Middle School. The current chorus students from the school certainly lived up to those expectations recently. After a blind auditioning process thirty-seven Seneca Middle School students were selected to participate in a day-long clinic and concert designed to stretch and improve on their choral skills. Those chosen - James Adams, Nathaniel Blackwell, Vanessa Bravo, Makayla Brewer, Ian Brock, Avery Butler, Nora Coutu, Judith Diaz, Emily Edgemon, Matilde Franco-Gil, Isaiah Glenn, Sadie Goodroe, Olivia Gray, Hayden Haas, Brighton Hamilton, Claire Hart, Rhiannon Hicks, Sean Hoffman, Emily Ivey, Ava James, Kylie Kalchthaler, Devon Lewis, Riley Maney, Mallie Merck, Ally Moore, Emma Padgett, Cole Palmer, Carson Roberts, Caroline Ross, Chloe Sayres, McKenzie Sluder, Quintin Telley, Trinity Traynum, Mali Treadway, Macie Ellen White, Turner Wilson, and Caleb Zeller - have certainly kept with tradition and set the bar high for those following in their footsteps in the coming years. Their choral director, Carla Brock, said of her students, “I am constantly pleased and impressed with the hard work and dedication my students show each and every day. Being selected to an elite choral group such as this not only gives them additional experience and instruction but also validates their commitment to all that our program offers and demands.”

Clemson EXPLORE Mobile Lab Builds Bridge to SMS

posted Oct 2, 2019, 11:18 AM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Oct 2, 2019, 11:34 AM ]

Lydia Panu, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez and Charles Warlick react to the test of their bridge design
In education, there is a long tradition of learning from lectures and textbooks. For some students, however, that isn’t the most effective method for learning. Fortunately, hands-on activities sometimes bridge the gap for those students, especially in STEM areas. Recently, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, Lead Engineer for the Clemson EXPLORE Mobile Lab visited the eighth grade science classes of Dona Gardner and Dr. Katie Gillespie at Seneca Middle School to work with their students on an activity that was not only hands-on but literally about bridge building, too. The activity began with Dr. Rodriguez telling the students about the main types of bridge design. The students then formed groups to brainstorm the best miniature bridge they would design and build in class out of a proscribed list of available materials. The challenge, as in real life, was to develop a design which would both meet specific design criteria and be cost effective. The students were very creative and came up with very different design ideas, modified their designs as necessary throughout the design/build/test process, and were quite invested in the final results of their efforts.

Dr. Gillespie commented about the experience, “This was the first year CU visited SMS with the mobile lab and it was a wonderful experience for our 8th graders. Dr. Rodriguez was very enthusiastic and kept our students highly engaged. Our science departments are very focused and committed to STEM principles. I think I can speak for all of SMS sciences that it is essential for our students to construct learning through hands-on and real-world experiences. We tell our students that life is like the design process: we question, we plan, we design, we construct, we evaluate and if it fails, we try again.”

 Ava Nimmons, Mallie Merck and Brooklyn Chatfield Averyl Mendiola, Bailey Power, Dr. Rodriguez, Mali Treadway and Mrs. Gardner Aurora Negro, Leah Broome, Mrs. Gardner and Carson Roberts

Untitled PostArtist/Illustrator Visits Seneca Middle School

posted Sep 6, 2019, 12:57 PM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Sep 6, 2019, 12:58 PM ]

Mara Diaz, Michael P. White, and Sydney Jones
Quality education can take place in many ways and in many forms – some traditional and some not. A recent guest to Seneca Middle School certainly facilitated art education in a most innovative, entertaining, and non-traditional way. Artist and children’s book illustrator Michael P. White worked with the school’s media specialist, Sydney Jones, and art teacher Mara Diaz to introduce Diaz’s art students to a different and fun way of approaching art and illustration through imagination and ideas inspired through stories. The students knew they were in a for masterful class as soon as they entered the Media Center where they saw a dazzling display of a selection of White’s completed artwork. White, who is known for his whimsical as well as realistic drawings of animals, employed liberal doses of humor to engage the students as he walked them through the “construction” of artwork element-by-element. Along the way he also explained the book illustration process which often requires the artist to produce hundreds of pieces of art for each 32-page picture book. He also reassured the students that each drawing didn’t need to be perfect but to just continue experimenting with their ideas and interests. In addition, White demonstrated and explained the art of air-brush painting as he made the initial black and white drawings come to life with color.

Michael P. White
White is best known for his illustrations for the books The Library Dragon, Return of the Library Dragon, The Secret of Old Zeb, and Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day. He is currently at work on his own book, Beau’s Bayou Treasure. He also produces original artworks available for purchase at galleries in the Atlanta area and online at his website michaelpwhite.com.

Reading Program Allows Students to Fly High

posted Apr 29, 2019, 12:35 PM by Lee Stephens   [ updated Apr 29, 2019, 12:35 PM ]

South Carolina Junior Book Award Field Trip Participants
Three books – just three books were all that students at Seneca Middle School needed to read in order to fly high and get some Big Air – a trip to the Big Air Trampoline Park in Greenville that is. Approximately 120 students recently enjoyed the much-anticipated field trip sponsored by the school’s media center after participating in the South Carolina Junior Book Award Contest throughout the school year. To qualify, students had to read and submit online responses for at least three of the twenty nominated 2018-2019 titles. Seneca Middle School Media Specialist Sydney Jones said of the reading program and field trip, “Each year we strive to get our students reading and although this trip is used to motivate them, we are confident that it also sparks their interests and fosters a genuine desire to continue reading for pleasure. We are so thankful for all of our parent volunteers and a generous donor who made this trip possible for these hardworking students.”

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