← View All Articles

Another win at Poetry Out Loud; repeat champ makes Charleston proud

It's a South Carolina first. [caption id="attachment_34461" align="alignright" width="242"] State Poetry Out Loud winner Janae Claxton (center) receives her trophy from South Carolina Arts Commission representatives Zuri Wilson-Seymore, program coordinator (left), and Ashley Kerns Brown, arts education director (right).[/caption] This past weekend, Janae Claxton of Charleston became the first back-to-back champion of the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition, which is organized by the South Carolina Arts Commission. A senior at First Baptist Church School in Charleston, Claxton was judged the winner after three rounds against five other South Carolina finalists Saturday afternoon at Richland Library Main Branch in Columbia. She won an all-expenses-paid trip for herself and a chaperone as she represents the state in the Poetry Out Loud national finals April 23-25, 2018 in Washington. She also won $200. The national winner receives a $20,000 cash prize.

  • Taylor Elisse Wade of Andrew Jackson High School in Lancaster was first runner up, winning a $100 prize for herself and a $200 stipend for her school to spend on poetry books.
  • Alyssa Stone of Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant was second runner up.
Four first-time judges were part of the Poetry Out Loud state finals: Al Black, Dr. Ray McManus, Dr. Charlene Spearen, and Dr. Ernest Williamson III. SCETV's Beryl Dakers served as event host. Claxton recited three poems from memory on her way to the victory: “The Gaffe” by C.K. Williams in the first round and “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late, Famous General” by Jonathan Swift in the second. Her judges’ score advanced her to the third and final round, where she recited Sharon Olds' “I Go Back to May 1937

Wando High School instructor named SC Dance Educator of the Year

From LowcountryBiz.com:

Jessica-CrumCHARLESTON, SC – The South Carolina Dance Association announced that for the second year in a row, a Charleston County School District (CCSD) teacher has been named the 2015 SC Dance Educator of the Year. This year’s winner is Jessica Crum, dance instructor at Wando High School. “It is an honor to be given this recognition considering how many great dance educators there are throughout the state,” said Jessica. “Dance education is important in the public school system because it teaches critical and creative thinking skills, which are crucial for a student’s success after they leave high school. The true thanks go to my talented students who make my job a pleasure each day.” Jessica has been teaching at Wando for seven years. Unlike most dancers, she did not start training until joining her high school’s dance team at the age of 14. At 16, she walked into her first ballet class not knowing what a dégagé was. Her dance teacher, Ivy Hale, took an interest in her natural talent and taught her classical styles along with dance choreography and composition. Her training continued at the College of Charleston studying Theatre Performance and Dance under the direction of Robert Ivey, intensively training and choreographed works for the Robert Ivey Ballet Company. Her performances have been reviewed by the Post and Courier and described as “insightful” and “inventively choreographed.” Jessica’s work at Wando speaks for itself. After one semester, the dance department grew from 18 students to over 120 students. She always tells her students to dream big and that it is never too late to have a career in dance. Her life is living proof of that. “There is nothing more rewarding than being able to share your life’s passion with those that are eager to learn,” said Gerrita Postlewait, CCSD Superintendent. Jessica is also the founder of the Wando Dance Company, which provides students with a pre-professional dance experience focusing on technical training and choreography. She currently serves as co-director of All County Dance in Charleston County. In 2013, she traveled to Shekou International School located in Shenzhen, China to gain a deeper understanding of fine arts instruction and teaching practices. Jessica will be recognized at the South Carolina Dance Association’s award ceremony on Friday, November 13, at the Kingston Plantation in Myrtle Beach, SC.

S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts student awarded national writing prize

Lowcountry student artists, writers claim 24 Scholastic awards From the Charleston Post and Courier Article by Adam Parker
The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is a 92-year-old institution that recognizes talented young artists and writers. One of the top winners this year was Charleston native Grant McClure. In 2014, the competition received around 300,000 entries from students, including hundreds from South Carolina teens. About 1,900 across the U.S. were selected as national-level winners, according to Scholastic’s Brittany Sullivan. And 16 high school seniors were awarded the Portfolio Gold Medal (eight for writing, eight for visual art), which is accompanied by a $10,000 cash scholarship. Grant McClureMcClure, a senior at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts in Greenville, was one of the 16. He won in the writing category. He hopes to spend his $10,000 at Wofford College, a private school in Spartanburg with a reputable creative writing program. Or maybe he’ll attend Clemson, he said. He will likely major in environmental studies and minor in writing. McClure attended Charleston Charter School for Math and Science for his first two years of high school and played varsity basketball there. His father, Arnie McClure, is a local architect; his mother, Mitzi, is a registered nurse. Growing up near Colonial Lake, McClure took note of Charleston’s beauty, culture and contradictions, he said. His interest in peeling back the veil to explore the nuances and conflict beneath the surface informs his writing. He has written short fiction, poetry, personal essays, mysteries and more, he said. Currently he’s working on a novella, focusing on character development. Of 44 national winners from South Carolina, 24 are from the Charleston metropolitan area, and 19 of those are Gold and Silver medal winners at Charleston County School of the Arts. Local Gold Medal winners include: Zoe Abedon (SOA, 12th grade); Arden Dodge (SOA, 8th grade); Kathryn Dorn (SOA, 7th grade); Maclean Hueske (SOA, 8th grade); Jessica Leiker (SOA, 9th grade); Julia Lynn (SOA, 11th grade); Carson Peaden (SOA, 9th grade, Best in Grade award for poetry); and Courtney Wickstrom (SOA, 9th grade, Best in Grade award for poetry). Wando High School senior Henry Ballou won a Silver Medal with Distinction for his art portfolio. Silver medals were awarded to 13 others at Goose Creek High School, Ashley Hall and SOA.