Barnwell 45 seats new board member, elects officers

The April regular meeting for the Barnwell 45 school district was one of seat-changing.

Abraham Sexton was sworn in as the newest member of the board April 23.

Sexton was elected to the board April 14. He fills the seat formerly held by Jeff Still, who decided not to run for another term. Sexton and Pete Zionkowski ran for the seat with Sexton garnering 506 votes to Zionkowski's 402.

The board also elected its new officers during the meeting.

By secret paper ballots the board elected Chad Perry as its new chairman, replacing Valenda Black. Teresa Spence was selected as the vice chair and Catherine Geter was named the clerk. Black was elected as the Barnwell 45 representative for the Barnwell County Career Center board of directors. That board has representatives from all three school boards in the county.

Several students were honored for various achievements during the meeting.Fifth grader Me'khi Reed was recognized for winning in the State Superintendent's essay writing contest. Reed had to write about why saving money at his age is an important task.

Likewise, Elizabeth Moore won for her essay in defense of fiscal responsibility for people her age in the eighth grader level of the contest.

Bradford Geter was recognized as the first place winner in the Barnwell 45 districtwide spelling bee March 14. Geter is a seventh grader at Guinyard-Butler Middle School. He will go to Washington D.C. to compete in the national spelling bee. Zyon VonCourtlandt, a third grader at Barnwell Primary School and Dylan Brant, a fifth grader at Barnwell Elementary school tied for second place. The students were among 23 from the district to compete in the district spelling bee.

Victoria Schatzer was named the Duke Scholar from Guinyard-Butler Middle School. The Duke e Scholar program allows seventh graders in the 90 or better percentile to take the SAT, which is the high school level college aptitude exam.

Four students from the Barnwell High JROTC program were recognized for placing in the College Options Foundation 2009 JROTC Leadership Symposium and Academic Bowl which will be held in Washington D.C. June 26-30.

The Washington D.C. competition is the third level of the contest. The first and second levels were held regionally in January and March, said Lt. Col. Mike Biddle, a JROTC instructor at the high school.

"It's an awesome opportunity for these young men and lady who were awarded this," Biddle said.

Thomas Williams, a Barnwell County Councilman, spoke to the board about the formation of a Barnwell County chapter of the Boys and Girls Club.
A group of people have been working to get a club franchise in the county since 2006. Instrumental in that cause has been the Big 7 Association, of which Williams is a member.

Williams said he hopes the club is chartered by September.

Others in support of a Boys and Girls Club in the county include the United Way of Barnwell County and First Steps. These groups were represented at the Barnwell 45 school board meeting by Ethel Faust, the director of the county First Steps program and Fred Geier, the Barnwell County United Way director.

"In order to make our community better, we have got to start with our young people," Williams said. "If we are going to spend money on anti-gang activity, we need to spend money on the front-end."

Williams said a Boys and Girls Club in Barnwell County would provide after-school programs for children and programs for disadvantaged children.
Williams cited statistics that if eighth graders are left unsupervised for more than 11 hours in a week, they have a high likelihood of getting in trouble.

"We think the Boys and Girls Club is one solution to a healthy community," he said. "It's a proven prevention program and one of the best bargains in America."

"What do we need? We need a budget, but don't worry, we aren't asking you for money," Williams told the school board of the financially strapped district.

"We need space. That's where you come in. That's what we hope you can provide," he said to the board.