USC Beaufort’s student literary journal wins first place

The PenThe Pen, the journal of student creative writing and art at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, has been recognized by the American Scholastic Press Association with a first-place award for literary excellence in the organization's annual magazine competition. The Pen scored 915 of a possible 1,000 points in the ASPA's most recent competition conducted last fall. "The Pen is an excellent publication which deserves a first-place award in the annual American Scholastic Press Association's magazine competition," the ASPA noted in a message to The Pen staff and its faculty advisor, P. Ellen Malphrus, Ph.D. Dr. Malphrus is a Professor of English in the Department of English, Theater and Liberal Studies at the university. USCB submitted the fall 2015 and spring 2016 issues of The Pen for consideration in the 2016 competition. The magazine issues were judged on the basis of content coverage, organization, design, presentation and creativity. Now in its 10th year, The Pen grew out of the Society of Creative Writers, the USCB student writing club that Dr. Malphrus organized a decade ago. Over the years, the society has become increasingly professional and the quality of its work has improved proportionally. The Pen is a biannual publication of the society produced under the supervision of the Department of English, Theater and Liberal Studies. It features original work in the form of fiction and poetry, and other creative arts. The Pen staff generally numbers around six people, all of whom are members of The Pen Practicum, a one-hour course for credit that students may take up to six times over the last three years of their studies at USCB. Students in the practicum meet once a week to discuss story selection, layout and design, photography and related subjects. Members of The Pen's student editorial board for the fall 2015 issue were: Katie Hart, Alexis Henderson, Brenda Hill, Ciera Love, Taylor Piscitello and Bill Lisbon, a recent graduate who handles graphic design and photography. The editorial staff for the spring 2016 issue consisted of: Ms. Hart, Ms. Henderson, Ms. Hill, Ms. Love, Elizabeth Higginbotham, Kat Trent and Bill Lisbon. "I couldn't be more pleased that The Pen is getting the recognition it deserves and that creative writing is flourishing at USCB," Dr. Malphrus says. "When I first began teaching creative writing workshops, we didn't have an actual creative writing program. Now we have a writing minor within the English major. That's essentially a creative writing minor. "Every semester, I teach an upper-level creative writing workshop along with a sophomore-level course I designed called 'Creative Writing across the Curriculum' that draws students from all across campus. Every semester we get students from biology, communication studies, psychology, English and history and on and on. This interdisciplinary creative effort has buoyed up the creative writing program at USCB." Several English majors at USCB, all graduates of the creative writing program, have gone on to graduate school to earn a master of fine arts degree in creative writing. Others have secured editorial and teaching positions. Via: USC Beaufort

Governor’s School faculty member receives national award for emerging writers

Alan RossiThe New England Review (NERand the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference have selected Alan Rossi as the recipient of the third annual NER Award for Emerging Writers. Rossi will receive a full scholarship to attend the 2017 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference as the New England Review Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Scholar. The NER Award is given to a writer with an unusual and compelling new voice who has been published by NER within the previous year. Rossi’s story “Did You Really Just Say That to Me?” appears in NER 37.4. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the AtlanticGrantaMissouri ReviewFlorida ReviewNew Ohio ReviewNinth Letter, and other journals. He is also the recipient of a Pushcart Prize in fiction. Rossi is a creative writing faculty member at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and lives in Spartanburg with his wife, daughter and various woodland creatures. Via: S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities

Laurens County Visual Arts Coordinator finalist for Teacher of the Year

Marcia WombleState Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Gray Court-Owings teacher, Marcia Womble, in her classroom with news that she has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.
"Marcia is the proud product of Laurens County public schools and is truly devoted to ensuring that her students receive a well-rounded arts infused education," said Superintendent Spearman. "I am so proud of her devotion to arts education and look forward to her continued leadership." Marcia Womble is a Visual Arts teacher at Gray Court-Owings Elementary and Middle School in Laurens County School District 55. She also serves as the District Visual Arts Coordinator. Drawn to teaching at a young age, Womble has opened doors for her students by obtaining several grants to purchase new art media, tools, and sponsorship for her annual Arts Day. During Arts Day, each class visits with different artists, musicians, dancers, authors, and actors. She believes in the power of positivity and starts each class by getting her students to “tell her something good.” ”Marcia Womble is a great example of what today's students need; a great teacher who understands the importance of how to capture, inspire, and teach all of her students in ways that they receive the greatest benefit. She exemplifies the qualities parents desire, principals expect and colleagues emulate. As superintendent of schools in Laurens County 55, I am grateful to be her leader and enjoy working with her to advance the important work assigned to us. Mrs. Womble is one of the best teachers I've had the opportunity to work with in my 37 years in public education,” said Laurens County School District 55 superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters. As one of five finalists, Womble will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an in-person interview with a team of expert judges. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala will be held May 3 in Columbia.  The overall winner receives a total of $25,000 and gets to drive a new BMW for one year while advocating for the teaching profession across the state. View photos from Spearman's visit.

Charleston student wins Poetry Out Loud State Championship

Janae Claxton (pictured above with her teacher, Robin Gramling), a junior at First Baptist School in Charleston, has been named the 2017 South Carolina Poetry Out Loud state champion. Claxton now advances to the national finals April 24-26 in Washington, D.C., where she competes for a $20,000 scholarship. As the state champion, Claxton receives $200 and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the national finals. The First Baptist School library also receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. Claxton was one of nine regional finalists who competed at the Columbia Museum of Art during the state finals on March 11. Each recited two poems they had memorized and perfected during school-wide and regional competitions that took place throughout the state from October to January, when more than 4,000 students began the competition. Three students were named state finalists and recited a third poem to determine the winner. Competition judges were author and Poet Laureate for the city of Columbia Ed Madden, professor of English at USC; Darion McCloud, founder and creative director of the NiA Theatre Company and Story Squad; Theresa (T.J.) Wallace, assistant director at South Carolina Humanities; and Qiana Whitted, author and associate professor of English and African-American Studies at USC. The South Carolina Arts Commission works with several partners to produce Poetry Out Loud. Statewide partners are the Columbia Museum of Art and South Carolina ETV Radio's “Speaking of Schools” radio program, hosted by Doug Keel. Regional partners are Hub City Writers Project (Region 1); One Columbia, Richland Library and the South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative at the University of South Carolina Sumter (Region 2); and the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences (Region 3). Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through exploration, memorization and recitation. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. Last year more than 365,000 students nationwide competed. polcompositestatefinals

The Hub recognized as a Notable State Document

South Carolina State DocumentsWe’re pleased to announce that The Hub has been selected for the South Carolina Library's Notable State Documents List for 2016. The annual award is meant to call attention to the most informative documents released by state agencies. The South Carolina State Library began the Notable State Documents awards program in 1991 to recognize exemplary documents among the 3,000 items submitted each year to its depositories. The Hub also won the award in 2012. A panel of librarians and state employees selected the documents for inclusion on the list, grading the publications based on their designs, writing styles, and breadth of information. The judges chose a diverse group of documents for recognition. Documents detailing rules for healthy eating, natural disaster recovery efforts, and wildlife conservation efforts were among the 11 publications that made the cut. State Library Director Leesa Aiken said the yearly award showcases some of the strongest work completed by state agencies. "South Carolina state documents provide a wealth of information, statistics, and share a broad range of knowledge about our state," Aiken said. "I am pleased that we are able to publicly recognize these important publications and websites as notable documents, and it is my hope that all South Carolina state agencies continue to produce high quality documents such as these." Awards will be presented March 16 at 10 a.m. at the South Carolina State Library in Columbia. The complete 2016 Notable State Documents list is available on the State Library's website. About The Hub The South Carolina Arts Commission launched The Hub in September 2012 to promote all that is special about the arts in our state. Readers can find real-time news, events, opportunities and resources needed to participate in and learn about the arts in South Carolina.

Congratulations to the 2017 Verner Award recipients!

Verner Award StatueCongratulations to the recipients of the 2017 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts! The S.C. Arts Commission annually presents the awards, the highest honor the state gives in the arts, to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. Awards will be presented May 2 (time and location to be announced). Established in 1972, the annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. This year’s recipients:

“Each of these Verner Award recipients has contributed greatly to the arts community as an outstanding ambassador for our state," said S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz. "Their dedication to the arts benefits South Carolinians and materially enhances our state’s economic vitality. As the Arts Commission marks its 50th anniversary, we are honored to recognize these organizations and individuals who embody the service, commitment and passion that helped build our state’s half century of leadership in the arts.” Also on May 2, the S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients and the arts community at the South Carolina Arts Award Luncheon, a fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. An art sale begins at 11 a.m. at the USC Alumni Center, 900 Senate St. in Columbia, with the luncheon following at noon. Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased online. The 2017 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon, call (803) 734-8696 or visit Image: First row, left to right: Laura Spong, Leo Twiggs, Quentin Baxter, Betsy Teter. Second row: Brenda McCutchen, City of Beaufort/USC Beaufort Center for the Arts, S.C. Humanities, Stringer and Rainey Foundations

Midlands band wins GRAMMY Community Award

Fairfield County School District is an Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC Project) site. From WLTX Winnsboro, SC (WLTX) -- The Fairfield Central band will not be in Los Angeles for the GRAMMY Awards, but they already won big thanks to the GRAMMY Foundation. Ferdinand Cooper is the band director at Fairfield Central he said, "My father was a band director for 35 years here in South Carolina." "I kind of grew up with it, so it has been a part of life for me ever since I was born basically," said Cooper. He has been at the Fairfield County school for three years. Cooper said, "It is an opportunity for me to take something I love to do and to share it with my students." That love for music is rubbing off on his students too. Sophomore Rebecca Campbell-Hefner said, "It is a really good influence and the band members are like family, so you really have a good support system." "People say band is hard, but it is really not. You've just got to put determination to it and be committed," according to freshman Harrison Kennedy. That commitment from the band members and Cooper paid off in January. The GRAMMY Foundation and the Hot Topic Foundation gave the school $2000 to help the school's band program. Cooper said, "I was kind of shocked actually. I have been doing this for 16 years and this is the first time I have had an opportunity to get an award like this. It was just kind of amazing. I was so thankful to the GRAMMY Foundation for choosing Fairfield Central." Now more students are picking to play in the band, a good problem for Cooper to have. He said, "We are getting more students than we have equipment to actually put them on, so this $2000 can actually help more students to join the band." According to Cooper, "It will go a long way to help us in continuing the great tradition that we have here." The GRAMMY Foundation's GRAMMY Signature Schools Community Award gives financial support to local high school music education programs. Nearly $1.4 million in grants have been given to close to 700 schools in all 50 states.

North Charleston Arts Fest reveals 2017 design competition winner

View More: City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department has announced Judy McSween of Charleston as the winner of the 2017 North Charleston Arts Fest Design Competition. McSween’s oil painting, "Scraping the Sky II," will be used to promote Arts Fest, taking place May 3-7. In addition, the artist received a $500 purchase award, and the piece will become part of the City’s Public Art Collection. McSween’s design was selected from a total of 60 entries by artists from across the state. The selection was made by a review panel appointed by the Cultural Arts Department, who judged the entries based on quality, originality, appeal to festival patrons from a broad range of backgrounds, and ability to convey the spirit of the festival as a public celebration of arts and culture. According to McSween, "Scraping the Sky II" evokes the exuberance of a new day and the anticipation of discovery. The piece was created after a summer trip the artist took with her husband, daughter, and nieces, where they explored galleries, parks, and restaurants. “I painted the fresh, inviting view recalling the vibrant city skyline when we embarked,” she explains. “It parallels how I approach a blank canvas - with a simple plan and with excitement to see what I’ll uncover along the way.” McSween has participated in numerous regional art shows. She was the featured artist at The Saul Alexander Gallery located in the Charleston County Library in January 2016 and was invited to be an exhibiting member in Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Artists Exhibit that spring in Marion Square. Her work was selected for the 2010 Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibit and has been awarded Honorable Mentions in the North Charleston Arts Fest’s Judged Fine Art Competition. Her paintings have also been featured on the cover of the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Program Guide and the 2015 baseball novel, Dreaming .400. For more information about the artist, visit A new series of McSween’s abstract land and sea inspired scenes, including the winning work, will be on display at the North Charleston City Gallery throughout May 2017. The gallery is located within the Charleston Area Convention Center at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Admission and parking are free. The public is invited to meet the artist at the gallery during the Arts Fest Expo from 11 a.m. -5 p.m. on May 6 & 7, 2017. T-shirts and posters featuring the winning design will be available for purchase. For more information about the North Charleston Arts Fest, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854, email, or visit

Nine students ready to compete for state Poetry Out Loud championship

Congratulations to the nine high school students advancing to the state finals in the South Carolina Arts Commission's Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The students will compete for South Carolina's spot in the Poetry Out Loud national finals and a shot at a $20,000 scholarship. State finals take place March 11, from 1 - 3 p.m. at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, S.C. The public is invited to attend.


Region 1: Upstate
  • Jamie Montagne, Spartanburg Day School, Spartanburg County
  • Simone Rice, Dorman High School, Spartanburg County
  • Livia Salle, NEXT High School, Greenville County
Region 2: Midlands
  • Taylor Wade, Andrew Jackson High School, Lancaster County
  • Emilie Martin, Fox Creek High School, Edgefield County
  • Alyssa Williams, Spring Valley High School, Richland County
Region 3: Lowcountry
  • Janae Claxton, First Baptist Church School, Charleston County
  • Abby Edwards, Charleston County School of the Arts, Charleston County
  • Julie Crosby, Goose Creek High School, Berkeley County
Nearly 4,000 South Carolina students participated this year, advancing from school-wide competitions to one of three regional competitions held in Spartanburg, Columbia and Charleston. The state champion will compete in the national finals April 24-26 in Washington, D.C. The state champion receives $200, a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books for their school library, and an all-expense paid trip to the national finals. The runner-up receives $100 and a $200 poetry book stipend for their library. POLcollage2017 Top row, l to r: Alyssa Williams; Region 3 participants. Bottom row, l to r: Region 2 finalists Taylor Wade, Emilie Martin, & Alyssa Williams; Region 1 finalists Jamie Montagne, Livia Salle & Simone Rice; Region 2 judges Poetry Out Loud, a program created in 2005 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement. Students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage while gaining an appreciation of poetry. Last year more than 365,000 students nationwide competed. The winner received a $20,000 scholarship. Statewide partners include the Columbia Museum of Art, the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina ETV Radio's “Speaking of Schools” Program with Doug Keel. Regional partners include Hub City Writers Project in Region 1; One Columbia, Richland Library and S.C. Center for Oral Narrative at USC Sumter in Region 2; and the College of Charleston School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Region 3.

For more information, contact Frances Kablick Keel at

USC opera studies director receives national mentoring award

Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, University of South Carolina’s director of opera studies and Opera at USC, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Wally Russell Professional Mentoring Award from The United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the national association serving designers and technicians in the entertainment field. The award honors a professional who serves as a guide and mentor to professionals outside of the academy and will be presented to Schlaefer at the 57th annual USITT Conference and Stage Expo in St. Louis, Mo., on March 10. Schlaefer was nominated by several of her peers for her guidance as a director and stage manager. She is only the third recipient of this award, joining Broadway lighting designer Ken Billington, and former production manager of Arena Stage, Guy Bergquist. USITT was founded in 1960 as an organization to promote dialogue, research and learning among practitioners of theatre design and technology. Today it has grown to include members at all levels of their careers and has embraced the new technologies being used in entertainment. USITT is now the leader in lifelong learning opportunities for the entertainment design and technology industry. The membership organization aims to advance the skills and knowledge of theatre, entertainment and performing arts professionals involved in the areas of design, production and technology, and to promote their interests.