The newsletter linked below has important information for next school year concerning student attendance, meals, dress code, and concerns about vaping in our schools. It also includes a link to registration dates for next year and information on summer meals. We encourage all of our families to read through the information provided.
SDOC Class of 2022 Graduation Information
Saturday, May 28, 2022
Seneca High - Tom Bass Field at 9:00am Gates open at 8:00am
Walhalla High - Razorback Field at 8:30am Gates open at 7:30am
West-Oak High - Warrior Field at 8:30am Gates open at 7:30am
All ceremonies will be live streamed; a link will be available on each schools’ website.
Seating will be on a first come, first seated basis.
In the case of rain, ceremonies will be moved to 8:00pm on the same day. If rain is still an issue, the ceremony will be moved inside with limited guests.
Guests will not be allowed to enter the area where graduates will report.
School photographers will be taking pictures during graduation. These pictures will be available to graduates and families for no cost.
No bags will be allowed into the stadium. Please leave all handbags, backpacks, etc., locked in vehicles. No noise makers of any kind will be allowed in the stadium.
Please note: Seneca High School will start later than the other two schools due to an error in communication. The error was discovered too late for it to be corrected on invitations ordered by students through the school.
At its regularly scheduled board meeting held on May 16, 2022, the School District of Oconee County Board of Trustees approved the hiring of several new administrative positions. Dr. Thorsland said, “We look forward to working with each of these individuals and are confident that they will serve our district well.”
Charlotte Kiker, who had been approved to join the Northside Elementary School administrative team as an assistant principal for the 2022-2023 school year, will instead transition to the role of principal. Mrs. Kiker attended Seneca area schools, including Northside. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina and Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from Clemson University. Mrs. Kiker has twelve years of experience in Oconee County as a teacher, reading coach, and assistant principal. Charlotte lives in Oconee County with her husband, Chris, and their two children, Adam and Abram. Mrs. Kiker said, “I am honored to be given the opportunity to rejoin the Northside Elementary family as principal! I am truly blessed to serve and give back to the school and community that has helped mold me into the educational leader that I am today. Seneca is a community unlike any other and I am thrilled to come back home!”
Mary Thrift, current principal of Matoaca Elementary in Chester, Virginia has been named principal of James M. Brown. Mrs. Thrift, an upstate native, holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary/Early Childhood Education from Southern Wesleyan University and a Master’s Degree and certification in Educational Leadership from Longwood University. Mrs. Thrift was a classroom teacher and reading specialist for 15 years before spending the last 11 years in administration, nine of those as principal. Mary is married to Scott and they have four children, Emily, Lara, Tom, and Blair. Mrs. Thrift said, “Everyone that I have spoken with about James M. Brown Elementary has talked about the passionate and caring teachers, the vested community, and the hard working students. I feel it is an honor and a privilege to join this staff and continue to provide an education that ‘empowers children to positively impact the world in which they live’.”
Shea Martin, an upstate native and resident of Oconee County for the past 15 years, will transition from her current assistant principal position at Seneca Middle to the administrative team at Seneca High. Mrs. Martin holds a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from Clemson University, Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from University of South Carolina and an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University. Before becoming an assistant principal, Mrs. Martin taught biology, chemistry and anatomy for nine years. Shea, and her husband Erik, reside in the Seneca area with their two daughters, Makenzie and Riley. Mrs. Martin said “While I am grateful for the time I have spent at Seneca Middle School, having worked alongside a phenomenal faculty and staff, Seneca High was the first school I worked at when we moved to Oconee County and has always remained close to my heart. I am honored to be back with my SHS family to help carry on the Bobcat tradition!”
Ashley Ramirez, current assistant principal at Pickens High School, will join the administrative team at Walhalla High School. Mrs. Ramirez is a Walhalla High graduate and was valedictorian of her class. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Mathematics Education and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Clemson University. Mrs. Ramirez taught for 14 years, the vast majority of which was in Oconee County at Walhalla Middle and Seneca High, before moving to an administrative role in 2018. Ashley lives in the Walhalla community with her husband, Rich, and daughter Zoe. Mrs. Ramirez said, “It is exciting to come back home to the School District of Oconee County and to my alma mater, Walhalla High. I look forward to joining the administrative team as we strive to continue the excellence that has been established and move forward in the future.”
At two previous meetings, the board also approved the following administrative positions.
Connor McCoy was named Director of Data Management. He has been employed with the district since 2018 serving as a technology intern, computer technician and junior systems engineer. Mr. McCoy holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Clemson University and is currently pursuing an MBA with a focus on information technology management from Western Governors University. He was born, raised, and currently lives in Oconee County. Mr. McCoy said, “I am excited for the opportunity to continue supporting our incredible SDOC faculty and staff in this position, as well as our students, parents, and community. Oconee County is my home and I’m resolute on providing our exceptional community with the most advantageous environment for inspiring lifelong learners.”
Mrs. Leigh Ann Thomas will transition from the SC History classroom to assistant principal at Walhalla Middle School. Mrs. Thomas was born and raised in Oconee County and is a Walhalla High School graduate. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Social Studies Education from Anderson University, a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from Southern Wesleyan University, and is currently working toward her doctorate in Curriculum and Assessment through Southern Wesleyan University. Mrs. Thomas has seventeen years of teaching experience, eight at Tamassee-Salem Middle & High School and nine at Walhalla Middle School. “I am blessed by the opportunity to serve Walhalla Middle School as an assistant principal. I appreciate the confidence of my school and district leadership in allowing me to transition to this role, and I am excited to work and serve alongside the amazing staff at our school. As a product of Walhalla schools, I understand the importance placed on education in this community, and I hope to help continue this long standing tradition in my new role.”
At a special called board meeting held Thursday, April 28th, 2022, the School District of Oconee County Board of Trustees approved several administrative hires for the 2022-2023 school year. Dr. Thorsland said, “We are delighted to have quality individuals within our district to fill these administrative positions. Many of them are SDOC graduates who have chosen to invest in and serve their own communities. We look forward to working with each of them in their new roles.”
Jennifer Crawford, a Walhalla High School alum, has been named the next principal of her alma mater. Mrs. Crawford holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Clemson University, a Master’s degree in Reading from Clemson, and K-12 School Administration certification from Gardner-Webb University. She taught English Language Arts for eleven years at Seneca Middle School and worked for five years as an Integration Specialist for the School District of Oconee County before moving into her current role as an assistant principal at Walhalla High School in 2018. Mrs. Crawford is married to Nathan and they have two children, Walker and Preston.
Elizabeth McCauley McDonald, a Seneca High graduate and current principal of Northside Elementary, has been named the new principal of Seneca Middle School. Mrs. McDonald holds a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education Social Studies from Clemson University and Master’s degrees in both Education and Educational Administration from Anderson University and University of South Carolina, respectively. She is currently pursuing a PhD. in Literacy, Language and Culture at Clemson University. Mrs. McDonald taught social studies for eight years, two of those at Seneca High School, before moving to administration. Elizabeth is married to Alonzo and they have four children, Maricellyn, Audra, Catherine and Alonzo, Jr.
Mrs. Ashley Robertson, current principal of James M. Brown Elementary School, was named Director of Early Learning to replace Mrs. Shanon Lusk who is retiring after 30 years with the district. Mrs. Robertson began her career at Walhalla Middle School as a language arts teacher for 5 years. She then moved to the roles of assistant principal at Seneca Middle School in 2009 and principal of James M. Brown Elementary School in 2013. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Masters Degrees in both Reading and Administration and Supervision from Clemson University. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in early childhood at Clemson University. Ashley and her husband, Josh, reside in Seneca with their three children, Landon, Carrington, and Grayson.
Mrs. Maggie Ables, will transition from a special education classroom to assistant principal at West-Oak High School. Mrs. Ables was born in Oconee County and is a Walhalla High graduate. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Special Education from Clemson University, a Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Furman University, and her Education Specialist Degree in Administration and Supervision from Clemson University. Mrs. Ables has eleven years of teaching experience, seven at West-Oak Middle and four at West-Oak High. Maggie lives in the West-Oak community with her husband, Justin, and their two children, Luke and Cole.
Philip Price, an Oconee native and West-Oak High graduate, will move from his current assistant principal position at James M. Brown to join the administrative team at Orchard Park Elementary School. Mr. Price holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Anderson University and an Education Specialist Degree from Arkansas State University. Before becoming an assistant principal, Mr. Price taught for six years as well as serving in several other roles in the school district including kindergarten assistant and computer technician. He and his wife, Lydia, who is also an SDOC educator, have two sons, Andrew and Thomas.
The School District of Oconee County offers students the ability to attend a school other than the one they are zoned for. Applications are now being accepted for school choice for the 2022-2023 school year. Families who wish for their child to attend a school other than the one they are zoned for must complete a school choice application annually, even for those who are currently on school choice. Applications will be accepted through Friday, June 3, 2022. Any parent wishing to apply for school choice for an incoming kindergarten student will be able to do so during Kindergarten Pre-registration which opens on Tuesday, March 8th.
Please note: to submit an application this year, the student’s birthdate and student ID number will be required. Parents should have received an email from School Messenger on Monday, February 28th, for each student that contained the student's ID number - Parent's are encouraged to check their spam folder if the email is not in their inbox. Parents should reach out to their student's school if they did not receive the email or if they have questions.
There are currently no restrictions on specific schools and/or grade levels for 2022-2023. Once enrollment numbers are finalized, it is possible that some schools and/or grade levels may not accept school choice students. Students currently on school choice will be grandfathered in as long as they submit the yearly application and continue to meet the requirements. The School Zone Locator tool is available for families to determine what school their child is zoned to attend.
SDOC School Board Administrative Policy JFB governs the school choice process. Policy JFB includes the following parameters:
Only students that reside in Oconee County are eligible for school choice.
Transportation to a "choice school" is the responsibility of the parent/guardian (no bus service)
Principals will consider behavior, attendance, and grades before approving applications.
A lottery will be used to fill spaces if more applications are received than available space.
Note: Eligibility for athletics at the middle and high school levels is governed by the South Carolina High School League. Attending a choice school may affect a student’s eligibility to participate in sports.
FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit to Families
Assistance of up to $50 a month to those who qualify
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households (up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands).
Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:
Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 a
t or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
There are three ways for eligible households to apply:
Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with copies of documents showing proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742