Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blood Drive Being Held in Honor of Irmo Teen on Christmas Eve

Columbia, S.C. — Join the American Red Cross for the “Give the Perfect Gift” Christmas Eve blood drive hosted by East Lake Community Church and Scott Browder. The drive will take place 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 24, aboard two bloodmobiles at East Lake Community Church, 10057 Broad River Road in Irmo.


Scott, a junior at Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, was in a near fatal automobile accident in the summer of 2010. As a result of the injuries he sustained from the accident, Scott endured multiple surgeries and received lifesaving blood products.


After five months of recovery, Scott is ready to help give back to his community this holiday season by hosting, along with his church family at East Lake Community Church, the “Give the Perfect Gift” blood drive. Give the perfect gift this Christmas Eve by donating blood and giving the “Gift of Life” for hospital patients in need.


For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 803-331-3629 or visit and enter sponsor code: Eastlake.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Comptroller General Visits Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom visited the “It Kids” classroom on December 15th and talked about the importance of citizen involvement in government. The students learned about the need for transparency and about how the public can use “transparency” websites to hold elected officials more accountable for the tax-payer money being spent. Eckstrom shared with the students that good governing isn’t about being a Democrat or Republican, it’s about being reasonable and fair.
The state’s chief accountant fielded questions from students. One of the students asked, “Governor Elect Nikki Haley has been tagged as “Sanford in a skirt” and you’ve been called “Mini Mark.” Are these compliments or criticisms? Eckstrom quipped that it depends on if you like Governor Sanford or not; that he personally took them as compliments.  He also shared with the class that he supports abolishing the powerful Budget & Control Board, on which he is one of five governing members, and allowing the Governor to oversee many of the Board’s duties.

The Board met this past week and the students were quick to ask about several of the controversial issues that were debated at its meeting. Another student asked, “This is the fourth year that the state’s prison system will run a deficit. In fact they’ve projected that it will run over $7.5 million dollars short in its current budget. In total that’s over $77 million in shortfalls the agency has racked up the past few years. Is it time for a change in leadership at the Department of Corrections?” Eckstrom explained that the prison system has grown significantly and that the agency director has trimmed spending in many areas and has done a lot with a limited budget.  Ironically, Governor-Elect Haley announced since Eckstrom’s visit she has identified a new director for the state’s prison system for when she takes office in January.
Students pointed out that state government faces a long-term budget gap in which ongoing revenues will not be enough to pay ongoing spending commitments. Part of this “budget gap” results from commitments for retiree benefits. Eckstrom told the students that state government has major budget problems in lots of areas and that the state retirement system was one of them. He reported that the new Governor is developing a long term workout plan.
He also explained that citizens have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent and that with the click of a mouse anyone can now search spending details by agency or school district. The students have visited the Comptroller General’s transparency website and they shared thoughtful suggestions to further improve the detail of financial data being provided. “We’ve read that other states (i.e. Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona) allow citizens to search financial information by agency or by function of government. The function of government is a classification that’s been established to indicate the primary duties, responsibilities, and services performed by each agency of state government. Would it serve South Carolina well to extend this same opportunity to our citizens as a matter of additional information?”  General Eckstrom said the website will constantly be changing to include enhancements like that, and he was very impressed with the thoughtful questions the students asked.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Course Registration Informational Seminar for Students & Parents

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

It is our pleasure to extend an invitation to all students and parents to attend a meeting regarding the 2011-2012 course registration process.  This very important meeting will be held Tuesday January 11, 2011 beginning @ 6:00pm (for rising 9th grade students) and 7:30pm (for rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students). Both meetings will be held in the auditorium at DFHS. 

During this meeting we will discuss the process students will follow in order to register for their classes.  During the 7:30pm meeting, a special highlight will be placed on the online registration process for rising 12th graders. In addition, during both meetings, we will relay important information about school and district policies that will assist students in having a successful high school experience.

As a component of the 6:00pm meeting, coordinators from all specialized programs (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics @ DFHS and International Baccalaureate @ IHS), will share important information about enrollment criteria, scholarship benefits, ties to Advanced Placement coursework, and requirements leading to program completion. Parents and students who are interested in any of these programs are encouraged to attend this session. We will duplicate these sessions January 13th @ Irmo High School and January 25 @ Chapin Middle School.  

Our goal is to involve students and their parents in a guidance and advisement system that develops positive relationships and ensures completion of an accelerated program of study with an academic or career/technical concentration. Research indicates that when we provide this type of collaboration, student’s results improve. Again, we strongly urge you to attend this important informational session concerning the registration process. You are welcome to bring your student with you to the meeting.

Should you need any additional information, please feel free to contact us here at the school (803-476-3305) or contact your child’s counselor. Additionally, you can follow @ DFHAPI or @prinmorton on twitter for regular updates.

Trina Offing (, 9th Grade                    (A-L)                        476-3347
Monica Harvin ( , 9th Grade            (M-Z)                       476-3544
Dorothy Burckart ( , 10th – 12th    (A-Ca)                     476-3342
Laura Dilworth ( , 10th – 12th          (Ce-G)                      476-3343
Robin Lowman ( 10th – 12th          (H-Ma)                     476-3348
Jessica Capps ( , 10th – 12th             (Mc-Sa)                   476-3346
Dana Martin ( , 10th – 12th            (Sc-Z)                       476-3345

Friday, December 17, 2010

Former Director of Higher Ed. Commission (Fred Sheeheen) Visits Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

Few will dispute the fact, that Fred Sheeheen is one of the great civil rights activists in South Carolina, and a devout supporter of public education. The Sheheen’s are heralded by many as a well-respected multi-generational family of politicians from Camden. On December 7th, the “It Kids” had the opportunity to meet the former Director of the Higher Education Commission and ask him about his son’s recent run for Governor and where higher education is trending.

The students asked, “Growing up as you watched your son mature, when did he realize he had an interest in politics? And what was it like for you to have your son run for the highest office in the state?” Sheheen shared with the class that young Vincent Sheheen didn’t have an interest in politics; it wasn’t until high school and a run for student council that his interest was peeked.

Sheheen shared with the students that the states higher education community has room for improvements with their technical infrastructure and operations. During the Q&A, one student in particular asked, “South Carolina’s higher ed has been criticized for not having a “uniform” state accounting system. We’ve looked at other states (Texas, Kansas, and Missouri) that use a common “chart of accounts” where one accounting system is applied and shared. How much more efficient would it be if they all used the same sort of system so there wouldn’t be so much redundancy and overlap?” He agreed that there is a need to integrate the higher ed institutions like other state agencies do. The students were curious as to why the higher ed institutions continue to operate so independently with their stand-alone computer systems as opposing to using the common computer system that state government now has. Sheheen noted that the benefits of sharing a common system would enable decision makers to extract information more readily for budgetary decision-making.

The class wrapped up the discussion by posing this final question, “How legal was it for the Budget & Control Board rather than the General Assembly to impose higher ed tuition rates on construction projects?”  Sheheen said that individual colleges and universities set the tuition rates and not the Budget & Control Board. He was pleased that all of the states higher education institutions responded to the building moratorium and lowered their tuition rates to help make continuing education more affordable for all South Carolinians.

Social Studies Teacher Earns Prestigious National Board Certification

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

Another Dutch Fork High School teacher joins the ranks as a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certified teacher. Mr. Steve Fisher (Social Studies Teacher) has successfully earned national board certification. We commend Mr. Fisher on his achievement and thank him for his hard work and commitment to the students of Dutch Fork High. "Quality teachers truly make a difference in the lives of students each and every day, and we are fortunate to have so many extremely talented and dedicated teachers like Mr. Fisher to work with our students (Gregg Morton, Principal)."

The certification process is based on high and rigorous a standards that evaluate teaching practice through performance-based assessments; the ultimate result is improved performance and achievement for Dutch Fork's students. The assessment process for National Board Certification requires candidates to complete two major components: a portfolio of classroom practice including samples of student work and videotapes of teacher instruction, and an assessment of content knowledge administered at a computer-based testing center. It is estimated that the process will take the better part of a school year and involve a total of 200-400 hours of work outside of the classroom.

Nearly 500 South Carolina teachers earned a national certification this year, according to data released Wednesday by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Currently, Dutch Fork High has fifty-one teachers who have earned national board certification. South Carolina again ranks third nationwide in National Board Certified teachers, with the 498 newly certified bringing the total to 7,784, behind only North Carolina and Florida. Last year, 798 teachers statewide earned the certification.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DFHS National Honor Society Supports Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Columbia, SC held it's 2nd Annual Holiday Make and Take on Tuesday, December 14th inside the Ronald McDonald Family Room, located on the first floor of Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.  Family members of pediatric patients dropped in to enjoy refreshments, decorate and fill holiday stockings and choose a present for their child from more than 150 children’s gifts.

All gifts were donated as part of a toy drive led by Dutch Fork High School’s National Honor Society. Other supporting businesses include Walmart on Killian Road and the Art of Dentistry, as they donated stockings and candy to add to the festivities.

Every year more than 2,000 family members are served by Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Columbia, SC through the Ronald McDonald Family Room® program. The Family Room serves family members of children receiving medical care at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital and Palmetto Health Richland’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The Room is 100 percent staffed by volunteers
and is a quiet oasis within the hospital where guests can use the internet, enjoy a cup of coffee or simply wait in a peaceful atmosphere that is just minutes from their child’s bedside.

Dutch Fork High Wins ACT/SAT High Performance Award

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S, Assistant Principal for Instruction

It is our pleasure to announce that Dutch Fork High School is a receipent of the ACT/SAT Performance Improvement Award (ASPI) by the South Carolina Department of Education. The ASPI awards program recognizes schools whose scores exceed the national average, improvement in composite score exceeds the state average, and/or score is in the top tenth percentile in the state.

South Carolina is one of only a few states that have increased high school seniors’ scores on the ACT college entrance exam over the past five years despite dramatically increasing the number of students who took the exam. Its 22-point gain in SAT scores leads the nation over the past ten years among states where more than half of the graduating seniors take the test.

“I commend these schools for what they have accomplished,” said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. “Their students, teachers, counselors, administrators and parents have aimed high and worked extremely hard – setting an example for other schools in their districts and regions.

As a receipent of this award, we have been officially recognizied by State Superintendent of Education (Jim Rex), received a certificate, and banners to display in the school. We applaud the dedication and hard work of our administrators, teachers, students, staff, parents, and community. We look forward to continued accolades as we work towards continuous school-wide improvement.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DFHS Band To Host Region Band Competition

The Silver Spirit Band is hosting Region Band Auditions on Saturday January 8, 2011. Volunteers are needed all day long.  If you are interested in helping and need service hours please let Cara O'Neal know if you can help.  There are 4 hour slots available :  8am-12,12-4pm,and 4-8pm or you may volunteer all day if desired. Volunteers will receive snacks and drinks.  Contact Cara O'Neal at 446-8620 and give her your information and when you would like to help. We need to have all volunteers by Wednesday, January 5th.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dutch Fork AF-ROTC Gives Back

This past Saturday the Dutch Fork High School AF-ROTC sent 5 cadets to the Oliver Gospel Misson to feed the homeless while another 85 were spread out over 6 locations to rings bells for the Salvation Army, for a total of 269 service hours. Another example of Dutch Fork students serving our community. "Enter To Learn, Go Forth To Serve".

Monday, December 13, 2010

WalMart Supports PBIS Program

On Friday, December 10, Wal-Mart Store Manager, J D Hacker, presented Dutch Fork High School a check for $1000 to go toward our PBIS program. PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Intervention System, where students are rewarded for positive behavior. The Dutch Fork community is looking not just at negative behaviors, but the many wonderful things our students do. The money donated from WalMart will be used to reward students that go above and beyond.

DFHS Girls Soccer Team Adopts a Family

The Dutch Fork High School Girl’s Soccer team participated in the WIS News 10/Palmetto Project Families Helping Families Christmas program.  The team adopted a family of seven and donated Christmas presents to each member of the family.  They also provided a gift card for the family to have a Christmas dinner.  Not only are these girls impressive on the field but in our community as well.  Way to Go Foxes!!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Senator John Courson Visits Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

It’s not every day a South Carolina state senator — let alone a 25 year public servant — shares with your high school civics class. On November 18th, Senator John Courson spent his morning inspiring, cajoling and motivating the “It Kids.” Courson spoke about his role in the legislative process, his efforts to protect the state’s environment, and other topics that provided the students with an overview of how the state sets good public policy. The students were provided with an opportunity to ask Senator Courson questions about the state issues that are important to them.

One of the students praised Senator Courson for being called a “taxpayer hero” and wanted to know what qualifies him as a real fiscal conservative. The Republican of Richland County said he has always made fiscal restraint a large part of his time in office. Senator Courson said that the most interesting question he was asked was, “with the cost of college soaring, the tough economic climate making it harder for many to pay, should colleges offer three-year degrees?” He said that is a possible solution that our state hasn’t considered yet.

We’re fortunate to have committed elected officials like Senator Courson.

Student Council Wins Top Award for Posting

By: Laurie Humphrey, Student Council Advisor

At the annual Southern Association of Student Councils (SASC) Conference Dutch Fork High School took top honors.  SASC is an organization comprise of hundreds of student councils within 15 southern states that helds its annual conference Nov 6-8, 2010, at Sun Valley HS in Matthews, NC

Dutch Fork's Student Body President, Courtland Thomas, attended and submitted four projects on behalf of Dutch Fork High School.  At this annual conference, student delegates participate in a variety of activities and submit projects from their high or middle school's student government.  From nearly 1000 submissions, only 16 awards are given each year. 

Dutch Fork High School won one of these awards at this convention for its project "Club Fest 2010".  The project sumbission included a DVD explaining the majority of the clubs on the campus of Dutch Fork High School. 

Congratulations Foxes on the Technology Project of the Year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Students who took the Asset will receive an explanation of their results on 12/16/10 at 9:00 am in the senior cafeteria.
A reminder for students and parents. Semester exam schedule for dutchfork high.

Asset Results Meeting

By Jessica Capps, Guidance Counselor

Students who took the Asset on our campus October 28th will receive an explanation of their results Thursday, December 16th at 9:00 am in the senior cafeteria.  All students who took this assessment are strongly encouraged to attend and participate in the explanation of the results. It is the student's responsibility to attend the meeting. 

What Is ASSET?
The ASSET® program is a series of short placement tests developed by ACT that lets you and your school work together to help you succeed in your educational program. ASSET helps you identify your strengths as well as the knowledge and skills you will need in order to succeed in specific subject areas. ASSET also helps your school use this information to guide you toward classes that strengthen and build logically upon your current knowledge and skills.

How Does ASSET Work?
ASSET has three tests of basic skills in writing, reading, and numerical reasoning, plus more advanced tests in algebra and geometry. The ASSET program also offers the Educational Planning Form, which supplements your ASSET test scores by providing your institution with information about your educational needs and goals.

How Are ASSET Scores Used?
ASSET is not used like a traditional test battery. There is generally no “passing score.” Rather, ASSET scores indicate areas in which you are strong and areas in which you may need help. Thus, ASSET can identify problems in major subject areas before they disrupt your educational progress, giving you the opportunity to prepare more effectively for needed courses.

You can use scores from ASSET tests and the information from the Educational Planning Form to prepare a course of study that will be appropriate, relevant, and meaningful for you.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Semester Exam Schedule 2010-2011

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

Exam Schedule for 2010-2011

Year Long Courses:
December 13            Blocks 1A, 3A
December 14            Blocks 5B, 7B
December 15            (Holiday Programs- No Exams)
December 16            Blocks 6B, 8B
December 17            Blocks 2A, 4A

Semester Courses:
January 10                Blocks 1A, 3A
January 11                Blocks 5B, 7B
January 12                Blocks 2A, 4A           (No Delayed Opening)
January 13                Blocks 6B, 8B


A student who misses a mid-year or final exam will not be allowed to make up the exam unless he/she has approval from Assistant Principal for Instruction. Any exam not made up will result in a grade of "0" for that exam. Recognizing that there may be some exceptions, the following are valid reasons for making up exams:

1. Death in the immediate family.

2. Confirmed move out of the district that will occur within two weeks prior to the end of the term.

3. Illness as confirmed by a written statement from a doctor. (Only a medical excuse from a doctor will be accepted.)

4. Out of town trips should not be scheduled during exams.  Students will not be allowed to take make-up exams because of travel.  Some make-up days for inclement weather are included at the end of the school year and may affect the exam schedule. Plan accordingly!

After the exam schedule has been completed, the make-up exam for the midterm (if approved by the Assistant Principal for Instruction) must be taken during non-instructional time at the classroom teacher's discretion.  The make up time for final exams will be determined by the Assistant Principal for Instruction.


Only A student who qualifies as a senior at the beginning of the school year may exempt the final examination for a course if she/he;

1. Has official senior status at the beginning of the school year;

2. Has an overall 85 or better average in the course; and

3. Have not received any suspensions or Twilight detentions during the entire school year.

With regard to a semester course, the final examination occurs at the end of either semester.

DECA Brings Home Several Winners

By Norma Brown, DECA Sponsor,

Today the DECA students make DFHS proud at the Regional competitions by bringing.home  23 Regional winners!!!! For most of the students it was their first time competing so please if you see any of these student let them know how proud you are of them because they looked awesome and they were great, I was just like a proud parent!!!! All of these students will now compete at the State level in February. The winners are as follows:

1st PlaceLawrence(L.J.) Borrman
Laura Guirau-Retail Merchandising
Courtland Thomas-Marketing Management
Harrison Hall-Sports and Entertainment Marketing
Andrew Klasnic-Apparel and Accessories
Morgan Soard-Quick Serve Management

2nd PlaceKaleek Graham-Retail Merchandising
Emily Raup-Restaurant and Food Marketing
Laquan Kennerly- Sports and Entertainment Marketing
Courtney Thomas-Marketing Management
Stephanie Krause- Quick Serve Management

3rd PlaceRachel Spilka- Retail Merchandising
Ashley Sease- Apparel and Accessories
Kristy O'Keefe-Business Services

TOP TENNicholas Cooper-Business Services
Katie Walsh-Business Services
Arkevious Williams-Hotel and Lodging
Soloman Goodwin- Marketing Management
Gabrielle Mullen- Marketing Management
Ben Rowland-Restaurant Management
Karie Williams-Sports and Entertainment Marketing
Faith Holmes-Apparel and Accessories
Charmain McKinley- Apparel and Accessories

We are so very proud of these students for their accomplishments.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dutch Fork High Students' Brave New Frontier With Ipad's in Classrooms

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

Irmo — Dutch Fork High School has an award winning reputation for innovation in the classroom with students and teachers while producing some of the highest test scores in the country. With the addition of new technologies, they are hoping to set the bar a little higher. 

This month, the school — is incorporating the iPad, Apple's latest portable computer, into classrooms to assist students. The iPads allow the students to work digitally on multiple subjects and use applications designed to aid learning. They also make the school a leader in the push for more technology in the classroom. 

"Technology is changing so fast and we're educating kids for jobs that don't yet exist. Technology is providing different ways of learning and communicating said Gregg Morton, the school's principal." This technology will provide students with an advantage in digital learning to support their efforts and improve confidence while increasing success and behavior. Ipads allow for community-based learning while accessing textbooks and literature to assist with reading, research, and web-based interactivity during classroom instruction.  

Students at Dutch Fork High agree that using technology to help them learn will improve their test results and allow them to focus during classroom time. One student stated "it's a better way to learn. When teacher's make it fun, we feel that we can learn anything."

By incorporating new and emerging technologies, Dutch Fork High continues to lead the way with innovation in the classroom to improve performance outcomes. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

OnLine Course Registration for 2011-12 Rising Seniors

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties is offering an additional option for scheduling students for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year. The PowerSchool Parent Portal has a new feature that allows parents to enter course requests. The feature is available for rising seniors 2011-2012 only. Additional grades will be added next year. The traditional process is also available for seniors if they choose not to use the online method.

The online option will be available from February 1, 2011 through February 8, 2011. If you do not have your Parent Portal web access id and password, please visit the main office at Dutch Fork High School before Winter Break. Additional details will be provided in coming weeks.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dutch Fork Teacher Named Columbia Area Reading Council Teacher of The Year!

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

Kathy Lott, English Teacher at Dutch Fork High School, has been named the 2010 Distinguished Reading Teacher for the Columbia Area Reading Council. Mrs. Lott was was chosen out of a strong list of applicants from around the Columbia Area. She has twenty-one years experience in the public schools of South Carolina and has been on the faculty at Dutch Fork High since 1995.

Mrs. Lott is an active member is the South Carolina and National Councils of Teachers of English. As the school's Literacy Coach from 2007-2010, she played an active role in working with teachers and students to close the achievement gap and raise standardized test scores. When asked how have you inspired a love of reading among your students, she stated "I love reading. When students realize my passion and enthusiam for eading, they cannot help but join the fun! Whenever students tell me they do not like to read, I just tell them that they simply have not found the right book yet. I get to know students personally in order to suggest books they cannot resist."

We are very fortunate to have Mrs. Lott at Dutch Fork High School. She works tirelessely in providing students with the tools they need to succeed in life is. She excels at giving every student a strong foundation, recognizing hidden potential and guiding students to find excellence within. Every student needs a teacher like Mrs. Lott. She personifies the true meaning of being a teacher (Gregg Morton, Principal). "

Teacher Cadets Participate in Familes Helping Families Program

By: Carol Jackson, Teacher Cadet Instructor

DFHS Teacher Cadets adopted two large families through the annual WIS-TV Families Helping Families for the fourth consecutive year. This year with 60 Cadets, the group was able to make the holidays brighter for more needy children and families than ever before. While Mrs. Jackson's two Cadet classes took care of gifts for two mothers and 11 total children, the new Coaching Cadets class bought two bicycles for two of the boys in one family. In addition to the gifts, the classes provided gift cards for a nice meal for each family. Elliot Fralick and Mrs. Jackson delivered the gifts to the Families Helping Families warehouse in West Columbia  Friday after school, and both vehicles were filled to the brim with gifts.

Teacher Cadets have already logged a total of over 1,000 service hours thus far in the school year, and their spirit of giving will continue with their annual gift exchange. Students will draw names of a classmate, shop for a new toy for that Cadet, present it at their annual breakfast party, and then put them in a box to donate to needy children.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New State School's Chief Visits Dutch Fork High!

Superintendent-Elect (Dr. Mick Zais) Visits Dutch Fork High
By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

The Dutch Fork High School “It Kids” got the opportunity to meet the man who has a plan for improving public education in South Carolina. Dr. Mick Zais, State Superintendent of Education-Elect, said he’s optimistic about the future of public education despite recent setbacks. The retired Brigadier General and College President shared his recent experiences campaigning for office and his non-traditional ideas for solving our state’s persistent education problems.

Zais stated he was qualified to run for statewide office because of his strong leadership experience. Our Superintendent-Elect plans to focus on the needs of students, parents, administrators, educators, businesspeople, and legislators in moving our state forward.

Students asked, “Given the severely diminished budget for South Carolina’s education, what ideas do you support to get money into the classroom? And how will you work with the legislature to achieve your goals?”  Zais said that given the economically challenged times we’re in every dollar spent ought to be looked at carefully and our spending decisions need to be prioritized. He will work closely with the Legislature to make sure tax dollars make it to the classrooms. One of the students pointed out that less than half of the money allocated to education currently makes it to the classroom. Dr. Zais was asked if the problem was with the Legislature, the State Department, or the Districts themselves. He answered that we need an audit at all levels to determine what action would be most appropriate to ensure that we maximize the education dollars being spent. He added that we should permit local administrators to spend the dollars they receive in their areas of greatest need.

Dr. Zais is ready to improve South Carolina’s model for public education by promoting more charter schools, tax-credit needs-based scholarships for students in consistently failing schools, and innovative learning environments for students. The students agreed that everyone should embrace creative, innovate, substantial reforms in education.  Dr. Zais indicated his desire to foster an environment in which teachers and parents feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions, and he pledged to help give teachers more flexibility to teach.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dutch Fork Students Give Back to the Community!

Dutch Fork Students Give Back to the Community
By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

Thanks to the Dutch Fork High School “It Kids” the Harvest Hope Food Bank will have over 700 more pounds of food. Yesterday our students gave the gift of hope and helped make tough times a little less tight for families in need. The students teamed up with Harvest Hope Food Bank and WACH FOX 57 for the Share Your Holiday Food Drive. They delivered canned goods, paper products, and a check for $100.00 from the Broad River Road Publix Supermarket. For more information please visit

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End-of-Course Examinations in Physical Science

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction

It has come to our attention that there may be some confusion about whether students who are enrolled in physical science will take the associated end-of-course test and whether it will count as twenty percent of their final grade. The answer is yes to both parts. Even though the physical science end-of-course test will be phased out, the original State Board regulation still applies. It requires that the test be administered and that the scores count as twenty percent of the final grade for as long as the test is administered. Please share this information with personnel in your district.

If additional information is needed, please contact me at or 803-476-3353.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ashley Landess visits Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

The Dutch Fork High School “It Kids” got a special visit from Ashley Landess, the President of the South Carolina Policy Council, and Governor Elect Nikki Haley’s newest member of the Fiscal Crisis Task Force, on Friday November 12th. The South Carolina Policy Council has been described as a “think tank” that studies and recommends good public policy for the Legislature to use to pass laws that will benefit our state. Ms. Landess, an expert in developing public policy spoke about government accountability, spending transparency, and why an open government is necessary to have a good democracy. The class discussed what role, if any, the government at all levels has in contributing to our current economic crises, and the effect government spending will have on improving our state or federal economy.

The President of the Policy Council opened up the floor for a healthy debate asking the students to address any concerns they have as we embark on a new chapter in our state’s history. A litany of issues was debated including whether or not the five member Budget & Control Board has outlived its utility and should be abolished. One student stated their concern that lobbyists are a necessary part of passing good laws, but tax dollars shouldn’t be used to pay for their services. The apex of the debate focused on the issue of public education and what can be done to improve it in South Carolina. The students concluded any change will start with changing the antiquated system we currently have in place. Several students expressed their desire to have more choices in the current curriculum and others challenged student fees.

All involved in the heated debate agreed that in order to move South Carolina toward a brighter future we must aspire to make government work better for all citizens.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Governor's Chief of Staff Visits Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

Scott English, Governor Sanford’s Chief of Staff fielded tough questions from Kelly Payne’s Current Issues class last month. In the waning days of his final term in office the students asked what the twice-elected governor’s legacy will be and what some of the biggest challenges were working in the Sanford administration. English said Sanford was willing to work to reform state government, to make it leaner, more accountable and more responsive to the needs of the citizens, and that he will be most remembered for his common-sense reforms and fiscal conservatism. While the students agreed that the governor was a driving force for fundamental change in the way things are done in Columbia, his visionary reforms were often met with contention and ended up in a Legislative gridlock.

One of the students questioned the consistency of Sanford’s stalwart fiscal policies asking, “For years the government of South Carolina has used industry targeting or targeted tax incentives in an attempt to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Governor Sanford has been vehemently opposed to this. In fact he’s argued that although these policies are common among state governments, the efficacy of these policies has been called into question over and over again. Why did he help seal the Boeing deal? Isn’t that hypocritical?” English noted Sanford has always stayed true to his political roots. The Governor has brought a clear and consistent focus on the bottom line and the equation of what people pay in for government is what they get out.

The students were inquisitive about the extensive media coverage of his personal failings while serving as the state’s top leader. They questioned the Governor’s Chief of Staff asking him, “The appeal for a moral cleansing of the Governor resonates with the passive-negative character in its emphasis on not doing certain things. It also reinforces the character attuned to moral appeals to duty. Shouldn’t the public realize that the Governor is only human, and with all man’s vulnerability to moral error, the pendulum should not swing too far? Or is it legitimate to hold Sanford to a higher standard?” English quickly responded that elected officials should be held to a higher standard and that we are all human, and humans are not infallible. Rightly or wrongly, his time in office will be remembered by the pejorative remarks from the summer of 2009, when he left South Carolina and traveled to Argentina. The students also realized that the “business-as-usual” mindset that exists at the State House is dire need of change.

We appreciate the time Mr. English took from his busy schedule to speak to our class and to help better prepare our students for their future.

Kaylan Gee Named National Hollings Scholar

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Four University of Alabama students have received National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarships for 2010.
The four students are among 121 students nationwide awarded the scholarship this year.
Nineteen UA students have been named Hollings Scholars since the inception of the scholarship in 2005.

“These are excellent students, and they are very excited about winning this award,” said Dr. Gary Sloan, professor of microbiology and coordinator of prestigious scholarships and awards in UA’s Honors College.The scholarships provide $8,000 per year for full-time study during the junior and senior years and $6,500 for a 10-week internship at NOAA or a NOAA-approved facility during the summer between the junior and senior years.

The Hollings Scholarship Program, administered by NOAA, is designed to improve undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research technology, and natural resource education; increase public understanding of environmental stewardship; and improve scientific and environmental education in the United States.
Sloan said UA students in the past have interned in Hawaii, California, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Students studying biological and agricultural sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, computer and information sciences, social and behavioral sciences and teacher education are eligible to apply.

Kaylan Gee

Gee, a sophomore from Irmo, S.C., is double majoring in microbiology and Spanish in the College of Arts and Sciences. She works in the microbial ecology laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Edmonds, an assistant professor in the department of biological sciences. She researches changes in microbial communities in the Talladega National Forest caused by the demise of beaver dams. Gee is vice president of administration for Kappa Alpha Theta, as well as a member of SGA Judicial Board, Alpha Epsilon Delta and The Other Club. Gee also is a peer mentor for UA’s Honors College Connection, and she volunteers with Impact Alabama’s SaveFirst.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nine Horrible College Essay Topics

By:Deena Maerowitz






An admissions counselor shares the most common blunders.

When it comes to college essays, the goal is not to discover the next Shakespeare. College-admissions officers are really trying to find out about applicants: what excites them, what interests them, and what kind of addition they’ll be to a college community. However, when told to choose their own topic, some high-school students panic and write about the first thing that comes to mind, while others get overwhelmed and can’t write anything. It’s not a clear-cut process, and there are numerous opportunities for applicants to make mistakes. As an independent admissions counselor, I’ve read hundreds, if not thousands, of application essays over the years. Based on my experience, here are some of the most common missteps—and outrageous mistakes—that applicants make in writing their college essays.

1. The Scare Tactic: Applicants often try to highlight personality traits in their essays, but their examples may not make the impression they hoped for. One student tried to illustrate her tenacity by writing about her refusal to believe that a boy she was interested in was not interested in her, too. The essay ended with her standing on his doorstep waiting for him to come home. Another student wrote about doing “whatever it takes” to maintain his high GPA, including showing up at his teacher’s house to dispute about a test grade. The applicants honestly meant to show their best sides, but instead these essays can make admissions officers a little nervous.

2. The Love Letter: Applicants can go wrong writing about requited love, too. One young man wrote a very long essay praising everything about his girlfriend, in detail. I had to remind him that colleges want to hear about him, not his first love. All was not lost, though: I suggested he save the essay for when they got into a fight and he needed to apologize.

3. The Mountaintop Epiphany: It was a grueling physical and emotional challenge, but eventually the applicant made it to the top of whatever mountain she was climbing and had a life-changing epiphany about what is truly important. Either that, or the process of getting to the top of the mountain was a metaphor for her approach to life. While these milestone climbs are obviously important to the individual, there is little new to be said about them. Unless an applicant is an exceptionally deep thinker and skilled writer, it’s best to skip this well-worn topic.

4. The Insightful Impoverished: Community service can be a profound experience for many students. However, a popular conclusion to this type of essay goes like this: “As the plane took off, I smiled at the country I was leaving. Even though I was the one who came to help, they were the ones who gave me a gift, by showing that it’s possible to be happy even when you have nothing.” Unfortunately, this does not reflect as well on the writer, who may be perceived as naive and a bit entitled.

5. The Redundant Recitation: Many students I’ve worked with think that the most important thing for a college to know about them is that they are hard workers. If a student has good grades, however, the admissions office assumes he works hard. As the University of Texas at Austin advises, “Submitting the same information twice will not make your personal achievements seem any more noteworthy.” And if a student doesn’t have good grades, she’s telling the admissions office that she doesn’t succeed despite working hard.

6. The Meta-Essay: Each year, tens of thousands of students across the country struggle to come up with a topic for their college essay. And each year many of them think it might work to write about their current struggle to write their essay. Unfortunately for them, the “I couldn’t decide what to write so I’m writing about writing the essay” essay has already been done. A lot. The college-admissions officers want to know about what makes an applicant tick, and how he would enrich the community at the college or university he’s applying to. This topic really doesn’t help answer either of those questions well.

7. The Navel Gazer: What is life? How do we become the people we are? What is the point of human existence? If you’re asking rhetorical questions, are you actually saying anything? Philosophical discussions are great, but they can wait until freshman year. A college essay should talk about the applicant’s life and personality, not recount unanswered questions.

8. The A-Plus Paper: While the classic five-paragraph essay structure may get a student an A-plus in English class, it earns an F in the college-admissions process. The college essay should be a personal narrative, yet many students approach it as an academic paper, writing in detail about a novel, science topic, or political issue. I often tell students that their draft is beautifully written, but that I didn’t learn anything about them.

9. The Anti-Essay Manifesto: One young man wrote an essay that railed against the entire college-admissions process. He complained about how high-school grades didn’t reflect his genius, standardized tests couldn’t capture his potential, and admissions officers were too narrow-minded to understand how lucky the college would be to have him. Though the college-application process can be frustrating, criticizing the entire system—and the people who run it—isn’t a good way to make a first impression. I often tell students that after they get through this process they can criticize it all they like, and work to change it from within, but that an essay on this topic isn’t going to be their best tack in receiving an admit letter.

Most college-essay mistakes can be headed off with a little common sense, so I always advise applicants to talk through their essay ideas with a trusted person before they start writing. Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm! With a little effort—and a list of topics to steer clear of—you can make sure you avoid the worst college-essay mistakes.

Deena Maerowitz is a college-admissions consultant and a former admissons director at Columbia University Business School. .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Listing Extracurricular Activities, No Need to Fill All Blanks

When Listing Extracurricular Activities, No Need to Fill All Blanks

As some high school seniors have already discovered, this year’s Common Application has up to a dozen spaces available for applicants to list their activities outside the classroom, including time spent working. For some go-getters, that’s probably not enough space — but for many others, it may be too much.

Which raises an obvious question: should an applicant stretch to fill those 12 lines?

The answer, say deans of admissions and the creators of the application itself, is a resounding “No.”
In my regular column for The Times’s Education Life supplement, which will be published this weekend, I have attempted to disentangle the section of the Common Application devoted to extracurricular activities. It includes a request to applicants that they “briefly elaborate on one” activity or work experience in four lines or less — a question that can be as important, if not more so, than the list itself.

Here’s how Monica C. Inzer, the dean of admissions at Hamilton College in New York and a member of the Common Application board, put it:

We’d rather see depth than a longer list. I think students think we want well-rounded kids. We do. But we really want a well-rounded class. That could be lots of people who have individual strengths. Distinction in one area is good, and better than doing a lot of little things.
You can read a preview of the full article here. Meanwhile, this is probably as good an occasion as any to start a comment thread on the subject of extracurricular activities. Please use the box below to let us know your thoughts.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kids Rock at Dutch Fork High!

By: Kelly Payne, Social Studies Teacher

The Dutch Fork Interact Club students had a chance to participate in the “Kids Rock!” Concert on Sunday, November 7, 2010 held at Dutch Fork’s football field. “Kids Rock!” was a celebration of individuals of all ages with disabilities and special healthcare needs and the 20th Anniversary of Family Connection SC. American Idol finalist, LaKisha Jones, from Los Angeles, California performed a concert and local celebrities were in attendance. The activities for this event included a disability walk around the track with USC football players and students with special needs. There were games and a cheerleading performance by A.C. Flora & SC Cheer.

 Mia Peterson and Kaylin Gragg, both juniors at Dutch Fork High School spoke to the crowd about their brothers who have autism. Kaylin’s brother attends classes at Oak Pointe Elementary and is non-verbal which she said makes it hard for him to communicate with others. While Mia’s brother is a freshman here at Dutch Fork, is high functioning and able to participate in a traditional classroom with minimal support. Both students pointed out how fortunate their brothers are to have a strong support system in Lex/Richland 5. For more information about Family Connection SC please go to

Friday, November 12, 2010

Student Initiated Research at Dutch Fork High School

By: Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Assistant Principal for Instruction
       Langdon Warner, Ph.D., Research Teacher
       Barry Lindler, M.Ed., Research Teacher

As a part of the accelerated science experience, students at Dutch Fork High School are expected to build foundations, collaborate with students and teachers, explore problems and solutions, integrate all content areas together, and fully immerse themselves in the research process until they solve the problem with innovative findings. In our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (plus our Project Lead the Way Engineering Program), students are doing just that! This year, we have 41 students developing projects in three broad areas:

  • Science and engineering: A total of 12 students are executing projects in the fields of biology, environmental science, medicine, chemistry, psychology, and engineering.  These projects require long term experimentation and field work and can last up to 7-8 months.  This group of students will also compete in several regional and statewide science competitions.
  • Computer science and technology: Twelve students, including 6 who are in their second year of research, are applying several programming languages to projects in three broad areas: a) new applications for mobile devices such as cell phones,  b) testing alternative video game strategies, and 3) developing new methods for displaying and using data, games, and puzzles.
  • The Honors Engineering Development and Design class.  A part of Dutch Fork’s career based CATE program, these 17 students are designing and testing a wide range of new products. They will also be building prototypes, conducting patent searches, and completing market analysis on their designs.
As a part of the external review process, each student has prepared a poster summarizing their project idea, required to present their idea to the public, and field/answer questions about their research design, methodology, and current findings.  The forty-one research projects are as follows:

We are very excited about this year's research and are looking forward to the findings. We will continue to update you as we learn more through this inquiry process.

Project Title
Testing different organic foods for the Roundup-Ready Gene
Using genetic markers, commonly found fruits and vegetables classified as organic will be tested for the presence of the Roundup-Ready gene
Is Used Vegetable Oil the Preferred Source for Biodiesel and other Fuels?

Four sources of biodiesel (peanuts, soybeans, jatropha, coconut milk and vegetable oil) will be compared using the iodine test (oil content) and a heated flame ionization detector (air emissions)
Redesigning storm drains to control non-point pollution from oil and litter
Conventional storm drains remove urban runoff quickly, with little consideration of water quality. This project will design and test bench scale and full size filters for storm drains to reduce litter and visible oils
A ranking of wetland habitats in the Hollingshed Creek watershed.
The Hollngshed Creek watershed faces rapid urbanization. This project will map wetlands and other sensitive areas, developing a numerical ranking system for areas with high environmental sensitivity
Reading comprehension vs. academic achievement of fifth grade boys and girls.
Using a sample of fifth grade students, this project will compare sample questions from commonly used reading comprehension tests and then develop alternatives that realistically sample reading ability of boys vs. girls.
Training your eyes: a study of peripheral vision

Can peripheral vision be improved through training and exercises? A training program will be developed and tested to determine if eye exercises can improve peripheral vision.
Optimal growth medium for the algae Botryococcus braunii for the purpose of fuel production
The green algae Botryococcus braunii will be grown in at least three mediums. The algae will then be analyzed based on volume grown and the amount of fuel produced, to determine the optimum medium for fuel production
A habitat assessment of two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populationsUsing scent stations and other wildlife spotting techniques, the number and distribution of white tailed deer in a bottom land forested wetland and a mixed hardwood upland site of similar size will be compared.
Quantifying mood: color and the physical manifestations of mood
Tests of the physical reaction to different colors will be conducted by measuring change in heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and external body temperature as a way to quantify a feeling of changed mood.
Is Sucralose a potential carcinogen?
When sucrose is converted to the low calorie sugar substitute Sucralose, several hydroxyl groups are replaced with chlorine. This project will use a Salmonella based version of the AMES test to assess possible cancer risks.
Biodiversity of aquatic Organisms on two rapidly developing watersheds
Water quality and benthic invertebrate biodiversity will be compared in the watersheds of Hollingshed Creek and Wateree Creek. The first creek flows through suburbs while the second is largely rural.   
Does texting cause auditory short term memory loss in today’s adolescents?
A Distracter Test will be developed assessing short term memory with and without interruptions by cell phone text messages..

Project Title
iPhone/ipad/itouch Walkthrough Observation Application
An iPhone application will be developed to allow the school administrators to review staff members individually. Each report is emailed to the person being reviewed and saved to an online database.
Physics Formula Calculator (Android App Development)
A new Droid application will be developed allowing users to solve physics formulas for the missing variable. The formulas are part of the AP Physics B Formula Sheet.  This application will be useful to high school students taking AP Physics.
Risk Analysis
A program for a simple card game has been developed.  Players will be given a questionnaire designed to draw conclusions about the risk behavior of specific demographic groups.
Logic and Theory
A program is being developed for the "Hangman" game which will then be used as a medium to test the level of logic that players use in guessing games.
Color analysis and reaction time
A target based game where different colored targets appear on the screen and the user has to hit it within a certain time frame before it disappears, focusing on reaction times based on color of objects.
Paintball target practice
A program is being developed simulating a paintball target based game where waves of targets will fall from the screen and the user will have to shoot them all.
Chess strategies
A chess program is being developed which will be used to implement different playing strategies to see which one is the most effective verses a typical chess formation.
A program of the game Phoenix is being developed which will be used to determine the fastest and most efficient way to win this game
A game program is being developed simulating physics, specifically on a "ragdoll" character.
Budgeting basics
In depth program that fuses budgeting with functionality, empowering the user to take control of their assets. 
Effective Visualization of data
An effort to determine how a person’s age or gender affects retention of visualized data.  What approach to data representation is the most effective?

Project Title
Break-resistant headphones
Attempting to prevent headphone wires from breaking over time
Carry-All food tray
Attempting to stop food spills in your car when ordering complete meals.
Cup Holders
Attempting to fix cups from tipping over in cars in a new and innovative way.
Guitar Killswitch
Attempting to make a more accessible kill switch effect for electric guitars.
IPod Screen Glare
Attempting to stop the glare on an iPod, iPad, and iPhone while protecting it with a case.
No-spill food transport
Attempting to prevent food from spilling when transporting. A design utilizing existing containers will be developed
Recoil Pad
Attempting to make a pad that reduces pain from the recoil of a firearm
Slip-proof shoulder bag
Attempting to prevent book bags or bags from sliding off shoulder, and making it comfortable
Tipping PowerAde cooler
Attempting to stop the requirement of tipping a PowerAde cooler to get the last of the liquid.

Spill-proof Paint Pods
Attempting to solve the problem of spilling paint pods during a paint ball excursion.