School Board honors academic team, Google doodle winner

March 29, 2017 GMT

Congratulations and unanimous voting was the order of business for the Aiken County School Board during its meeting Tuesday.

Mrs. Joy Shealy began the meeting with a devotional and prayer.

“Students will either step up or step down to our expectation,” Shealy said. “These expectations, whether defined as their inability to sit still, or as their individual intellectual development, will determine the next chapter in our student’s lives.”

The first student to be honored was Alexander Fernandez, a fourth-grader at Byrd Elementary School.

Alex was honored on campus after his design was selected in the ninth annual Doodle 4 Google competition, and is now the top design in the state of South Carolina.


Students K-12 were asked to redesign the Google logo, inspired by the theme “What I see for the future...”

Alex has the chance to win a $30,000 college scholarship, and the school would receive a $50,000 Google for Education grant toward the establishment and improvement of technology programs and computer labs.

Alex titled his Google design “Virtual Reality School” and was surprised at his school by a team from Google.

“I was really nervous when I walked in (for the assembly) because I thought it was something else besides the Google program,” Alex said. “Then I was really shocked when I figured out that it was me (who had won). It felt pretty good though. Everybody was really happy. If you want to be able to draw, you just have to keep trying and try harder.”

The second group of students to be honored was the Aiken High School Academic Team, coached by Jennifer Wilson and Darrah Densmore.

The team competed in four Aiken County competitions and two out-of-district competitions, finishing fourth in their division at Clemson University in November, during its regular season.

In the Aiken County Public School District high school tournament, the team was able to rally for a win in its first match against South Aiken High before moving on to defeat the tournament’s top-ranked team from Silver Bluff.

In the championship match, the Aiken High won against Midland Valley High.

Coaches Wilson and Densmore, along with team members Team Captain Brian Marra, Darla Alarcon, Brynne Berry, Simon Berry, Jillian Boyd, Isabel Brown-Emanuelli, Grant Butler, Soren Granger, Jahleel Johnson, Kaylee Knight, Shaunique Oakman, Zahra Rizvi, Jennifer Siler and CarlieBeth Wilson were recognized by board members.


The board went on to mention legislative updates that did not require a board vote.

Among the updates were the Tax Credit for Workforce scholarship, the Educational Oversite Committee and the road repair bill.

All motions brought before the board were passed unanimously through the board.

Some of these motions included changes to payroll procedures, reorganization of existing policies that may cover positions that no longer exist, changes to the sexual discrimination and harassment act which will allow grievances to be addressed up to a calendar year after the incident and an establishment of the basic structure for community use of school facilities.

District Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford also stated that the district has successfully received a grant to support its summer reading program.

“Our summer reading program really serves a number of students who are not currently showing the level of proficiency that we would like,” Alford said. “So we spend additional time with them in the summer.”

He went on to say they were close to releasing a line up of the summer enrichment opportunities for students.

“We certainly want to take advantage of the time we have to continue learning while at home,” Alford said. “So we have exciting things for you all to do this summer.”