Bland Honored

Bland Is Recipient Of
Agricultual Leadership Award


  COLUMBIA, SC - Hugh M. Bland, a retired agricultural educator from Edgefield, SC, has been named recipient of the John W. Parris Agricultural Leadership Award by the SC Association of Agricultural Educators for 2020.
  A graduate of Strom Thurmond High School in 1969, Bland earned a BS and Master’s in Agricultural Education at Clemson University. A National Board-Certified Teacher, Bland has served as president of the SC Association of Agricultural Educators.
  Bland taught Agricultural Education at Midland Valley High School for 8 years and Strom Thurmond Technology Center for 25 years. Upon retirement as a high school teacher, Bland headed up the new Diversified Agricultural Program at the Saluda Campus of Piedmont Technical College for 7 years. In 2018, Bland was named Chairman of the Board of Directors of the new Governor’s School for Agriculture at the John de la Howe facilities in McCormick County.
   Previously recognized as the Outstanding Teacher of the Year in South Carolina by the Clemson University Collegiate FFA Organization, Bland was also named the Outstanding Conservation Education Teacher in South Carolina by the SC Association of Conservation Districts. He was awarded the Honorary American FFA Degree by the 600,000-member National FFA Organization.
  Bland holds an enviable record of accomplishments as advisor to the Midland Valley and Strom Thurmond FFA Chapters by producing 10 State FFA Star Farmer or Star Agribusiness recipients and more than 20 State FFA Championship Teams in Forestry, Ornamental Horticulture, Agronomy, Wildlife, Floriculture and Soil Judging. All of these teams competed in the national finals with 2 National Gold Teams in Forestry and Ornamental Horticulture. He also had 6 Individual National Gold Winners of Scholarships in Forestry, Ornamental Horticulture and Agronomy. Among Bland’s most outstanding Environmental Education accomplishments was producing the State Envirothon Championship Team.  
  The John W. Parris Agricultural Leadership Award was established several years ago by the SC Association of Agricultural Educators in honor of Mr. Parris of Columbia, SC. A graduate of Clemson University, Parris is a nationally recognized agricultural leader and conservation visionary with more than 60 years of professional service.
  The SC Association of Agricultural Educators is a professional development organization that provides continual leadership opportunities for its members and recognizes outstanding agricultural education programs and individuals throughout the state.


Aiken School Board Extends Hybrid Model Through Jan. 15

  During its regular meeting held Tuesday, December 8, 2020, the Aiken County Board of Education voted to extend the school district’s current operations in the Hybrid Model of instruction through January 15, 2021. The school board also voted to continue current District operations related to interscholastic athletics.
   The school district’s Hybrid Model of instruction includes middle and high school students attending in-person classes two days each week in Blue and Red cohorts, with three days of remote learning. Elementary school students in the Hybrid Model attend four days of in-person classes with remote learning on Fridays.
   “Everyone wants our students to be in school five days a week and that includes our nine board members,” stated Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence. “I believe we all agree that having students attend in-person instruction five days a week is in the best interests of everyone, but we have to do it safely.”
  A number of parents, a student and teacher expressed their thoughts on instructional models during the public participation portion of Tuesday’s meeting.
   “I appreciated the parents, student, and teacher we heard from Tuesday and value their input,” commented Superintendent Laurence. “It’s very important to listen to our stakeholders regularly and have them express their thoughts and opinions. We have to work together with respect and consideration for everyone involved and I believe that’s what we are continuing to do.”  
   The board’s decision Tuesday followed a recommendation by the District’s Back-to-School Advisory Committee to continue in the Hybrid Model following the upcoming winter break which begins December 21, 2020. The board’s decision on school athletics followed a recommendation by Aiken County Superintendent King Lau-rence.
   The school board also approved a recommendation from Superintendent Lau-rence for a tiered threshold system allowing the superintendent to move individual schools into and out of instructional models on a school-by-school basis and school-specific positive Covid case numbers and student and employee quarantines. This new system will replace the previous practice of moving schools between instructional models on a District-wide level.
   In other business, the board approved a community donation of $1,800 from the Aiken County Association for Special Citizens to North Augusta High School to purchase equipment and supplies for the school’s Adaptive Physical Education Program, as well as a donation of $2,000 from Everett Chandler and Chandler Law Firm to A.L. Corbett Middle School to purchase athletic shoes for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.
  During special orders of business, the board heard a presentation from Dr. Tom Clark, Executive Director of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon, who recognized the District for the second consecutive year with a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence of the Year Award. The award, presented to Superintendent Laurence, is awarded to organizations, institutions or municipalities that excel in emphasizing and supporting cybersecurity and developing the workforce of tomorrow.