The excitement was thick in Hammond Hill Elementary School’s cafeteria as faculty, staff, parents and pupils awaited the start of the annual South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ Palmetto Finest ceremony.
The March 11 ceremony, which was streamed live, was to announce the 2013 Palmetto’s Finest school awards to five schools, including two elementary schools.
As the live stream began, a short burst of cheers and applause erupted in the cafeteria. Children sat by, some holding hands and others with their fingers crossed. Adults sat with expressions of anticipation and curiosity to see if their school would be among those named a Palmetto’s Finest school.
After officials introduced the three elementary schools vying for the award, the first award was announced: Fort Dorchester Elementary School.
The audience knew they had one more chance and as they looked at each other, they waited to hear which of the two remaining elementary schools would receive the award as well.
Within seconds, the next recipient of the award was announced: Hammond Hill Elementary School. As the name was heard, the audience cheered while many jumped up in excitement.
It was the second prestigious award the school has received this school year, which is the 60th anniversary of the school. The school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in September.
“This is Hammond Hill’s year,” said Peggy Trivelas, an elementary academic officer with Aiken County Public Schools.
The awards are a culmination of the hard work teachers, parents and pupils, she added.
Principal Janet Vaughan shared similar thoughts.
“All of the hard work and dedication came together at that moment,” she said of hearing Hammond Hill’s name as a recipient.
The school’s nurturing environment and the relationships the teachers build with their students and parents are important aspects of the school, said Vaughan.
“They know we care,” she said.
Other Palmetto’s Finest award winners were: Hanahan Middle School, Hanahan; Ashley Ridge High School, Summerville; and Marrington School of the Arts, Goose Creek.
“The Palmetto’s Finest award winners represent the many innovative schools in our state,” said SCASA executive director Molly Spearman.
“They are community centers of learning where students are given personalized instruction and high expectations.”