May/June 2020

Spartanburg School District 7 Statement on Social Justice and Racial Reconciliation
It goes without saying that the last several months have been difficult moments for our nation, state, community and school district.  The global pandemic has added significant stress to our students and our families. The tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd (to name a few), and the racial unrest we are experiencing as a result have exacerbated the strain on our children. We are concerned about their well-being and how they are processing all of this.
 
On June 2, our Spartanburg School District Seven faculty and staff convened in Viking Stadium to share insight amid this racial tension. We later followed up with a correspondence sharing thoughts and expectations for each of us moving forward.   
 
In District 7, we acknowledge that inequities and social injustice continue to exist. We stand united in our conviction that this is no time to debate which lives matter. As educators, we know that every child is different, and we must reach them where they are.  As we find our nearly 4,500 African-American students in a place of turmoil and unrest, we want them to know, “We see you. We are here for you. Your lives matter.”
 
As educators who look to history as our best teacher, we affirm the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
 
We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.  We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.  In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time.  Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity…There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect…We still have a choice today.
 
We firmly believe that our students learn more from what we do than what we say, and as such we are committed to action. We have refused to let discomfort impede our responsibility to call out racism, prejudice and injustice when we see it. As much as we would like to believe our schools are places of inclusion, we admit we have work to do. We commit to growing together and holding one another accountable by opening our eyes to the privilege and discrimination that is tied to the color of our skin. We are unwavering in our resolve to work collaboratively across all segments of our broader community to support our students as they grow into leaders who will create an inclusive future for all.
 
District Seven has been a leader in this arena.  We are a key partner in supporting the work of the Racial Equity Institute, the Diversity Leaders Initiative, the Network for Southern Economic Mobility, our city’s Northside and Highland communities, and a host of community efforts aimed at bringing forth equitable outcomes for our citizens.  Internally, the creation of an Office of Diversity and Inclusion further underscores our district’s commitment to the work of fairness and inclusiveness for all students and staff.  
 
We ask you to stand beside us and join us in this work.  You can begin by committing to educating yourself and by talking with your children.    Our Diversity and Inclusion toolkit provides resources that will be of help along our collective journey.  We know it will take more, but this is a good beginning point.
 
Let’s stand together, today and going forward, to build hope within our children for their future. Our schools are a reflection of our society, and it is therefore contingent upon all of us to eradicate indifference, prejudice, and racism.  Our role in opening our children’s eyes to the essential value within each and every citizen can and will prepare them to break the cycle of our past and respond to the fierce urgency of now. If we are vigilant today, racial reconciliation can be realized, and for them it will not be too late.

Let’s move forward together,

Russell W. Booker, Superintendent
Jeff Stevens, Superintendent-Elect
"Moving Forward Together"
A Message from Jeff Stevens, Superintendent-Elect

What I know and love best about District 7 is more evident now than ever. As we completed this past year in a pandemic and look to our upcoming year with uncertainty about how COVID-19 will evolve and impact our nation, as we move into summer shaken to our core by racial injustice and violence, as we say farewell to a beloved superintendent and transition to new leadership, we have entered into the unknown in nearly every respect. And yet, this community is full of the hope, determination, resilience, and heart that enables us to find our way as we inspire and equip our students.

Last week, on our final day of the school year, Dr. Russell Booker convened our employees in Viking Stadium. As he noted, the last time we were together as a district was in August 2019 at our opening convocation. There was a stark contrast between the two convenings.  The first was filled with excitement, anticipation, and new hope for the year ahead.  The last was quite the opposite, as the atmosphere had shifted. In this meeting, however, he offered a message of hope and a call to action to move Forward Together. I want to share with you the challenge issued to our employees, outlining what we as a district can be doing to support our students during this difficult time ( read that communication here ).

As I join you as your next superintendent, I want to underscore this message to our teachers. And in the same way that we needed to connect as a district team, I recognize our need to connect with you, our parents and community members. As we look to next year, we will begin our journey with a year-long theme of “Forward Together.” It is, for many reasons, the right message to guide this moment in our history.

Today, District 7 released publicly the above statement on social justice and racial reconciliation. District 7 is fortunate to have made meaningful strides in the area of diversity and inclusion. We have trained many employees on the issues of equity and race. We have representatives in every school who together comprise our Diversity and Inclusion Alliance, working on behalf of our entire district. As we begin the second year of this new initiative and bring our students back together following months of national unrest, our work must take a more actionable form in order to support them. We will move Forward Together.

As we look to a new school year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we celebrate the resilience displayed this past year by our students, our parents, and our schools and district personnel. A “can do” spirit was exhibited throughout this community as schools and parents worked together to meet the needs of our young people through food deliveries, the reworking of classroom teaching into take-home packets and our eLearning platform, a host of virtual resources, home visits, and endless other things. Your herculean efforts during this unprecedented time are a shining example of servant leadership.

We know you have many questions about our school operations for next year. Answers are coming soon. A District 7 task force is working closely with medical professionals, public health experts, community leaders, and South Carolina's AcceleratED task force to create an operational plan for safely resuming school in the Fall. Our priority is to establish guidelines that will enable teachers and students to feel safe coming back to school, and to create flexible scenarios that allow us to operate responsively to the pandemic. Our students need to return to a sense of normalcy that is so important in their lives. We will move Forward Together.

I am proud to be part of a community that places the highest priority on the wellbeing of our children. We must come together for the year ahead like no other time in our recent history. Despite the many unknowns, one thing I am completely certain of is that we will rise to the occasion because in District 7 and in Spartanburg, that is what we do.
Striving for America the Beautiful
Our children can change the world. They are our hope for the future. In our schools, our young people learn why we celebrate the ideals and character of America: bravery, heroism, patriotism, and equality as well as taking personal responsibility for one’s actions. This collective set of values is more essential to our nation than any individual identity.

As our nation works to find unity and build community, we lift up the voices of our children. To honor that vision, Jeff Kuntz, Helen Tipton, March Moody, and John Moody convened District 7 orchestra students from grades 5-12 for a virtual performance of the America the Beautiful . While the piece has a rich and complex history, we share it today as a hymn of national unity and reconciliation. From sea to shining sea.
Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony
Above: Watch the livestream of Commencement 2020.
Our seniors have finished the year strong! On Saturday, May 30th, 438 deserving young men and women marched across the stage at Viking Stadium for  Spartanburg High School's commencement  ceremony . A little more than an hour later, with diplomas in hand and tassels turned, the graduates flashed victorious smiles and impressive credentials.

Wisdom, Strength, and Peace are the ideals inscribed in Spartanburg High School seal, and they have certainly been reflected in our seniors this year. To celebrate their work for the betterment of future Vikings generations, each of student received a souvenir coin. On the front side, the Viking head. On the back side, a picture of our new SHS with the phrase Starting New Traditions. “Please let this coin serve as a reminder of the first steps that you have taken to make 2250 East Main Street more than an address, but our new home,” Principal Vance Jones said. “This may not mean much to you now, but it certainly will in half a century. I hope that you will cherish it.”

Senior Class President  Peaches Moore  set the tone for the evening as she addressed her classmates with a heartfelt sendoff.  “The two qualities that have defined our class and school are unity and perseverance. As Vikings, we have compassion; we embody loyalty; and we care. That is what I encourage you all to do - support each other and understand that differences do not divide us.” 

Academic superstars, Valedictorian Allison Burton and Salutatorian Will Lawton , were applauded for their collective scholarship earnings and their admission to some of the most notable colleges and universities in the nation. Our Tribute Ad to the Class of 2020 in the Spartanburg Herald Journal highlights all the accomplishments of this special class.

Principal Vance Jones said  this year’s class achieved many impressive accolades. In athletics, this includes eight individual All-State honorees, three individual state champions in girls swimming and two relay team state champions and the team state runner-up in girls swimming, and the county championship in wrestling. Notably, 41 seniors earned the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship which is a SHS record, 100 qualified for the Life Scholarship (students needed a GPA of 4.261 to reach the top 30% this year ), 22 seniors finished their high school careers with GPAs of over 5.0, three seniors were recognized as National Merit scholarship program finalists, semifinalists, or commended students, 18 graduating seniors are a part of the Viking Early College or the  Spartanburg County Early College High School and all earned Associates Degrees from Spartanburg Community College, and 119 SHS students - of which 48 which were seniors - were named to the 2019 College Board AP Scholars. An impressive 298 seniors (68% of the class) have been awarded merit based  scholarships. These awards, projected over a four-year college career, total of $14,314,608.

Mr. Jones honored each SHS community member's role in helping the school earn recognition as one of the top high schools nationwide. SHS was once again named to  U.S. News & World Report's  list of America's Best High Schools last month. 
 
 
 
 
On May 29, the Herald-Journal featured the very special story of Viking Early College senior Juston Jackson and his mother, Tiffany Bell, who are both graduating this year. The inspirational story reminds us how important love, support and encouragement is along the educational journey.

 
 
 
 
This year, our bus drivers not only transported students but also delivered meals, WI-FI and, most importantly, a warm greeting to many young people in our school district. With that same heart, our drivers created a special tribute to the Class of 2020. And to the kids on the bus from the past, the present and the future, this one’s for you too!

Celebrating the Leadership of Dr. Russell W. Booker
While we celebrated several “firsts” with this commencement, we also marked one very important “last” as we saluted our superintendent, Dr. Russell Booker, with a surprise presentation. The honor was bestowed by the entire student body, led by Student Council leaders who so eloquently indicated their desire to recognize their superintendent in a lasting manner. “This day is bittersweet in so many ways – while we are sad you’re retiring, we’re also happy you’re FINALLY getting out of school, so to speak, and that you’re graduating with us! That’s a gift we’ll always remember,” said senior class president Peaches Moore (pictured above with Dr. Booker and his family, from left: Grant, Maxwell, and Sheryl Booker).

In presenting a gift from our entire District 7 family, Superintendent-Elect Jeff Stevens explained, “There is one special place on the Spartanburg High School campus that is designed to serve not only the high school, but also the broader District 7 community. The District 7 Fine Arts Center is one of the jewels in our crown. Our entire Spartanburg community will enjoy this extraordinary venue for years to come…. As you step into the entrance of our Fine Arts center – inspired by Dr. Booker’s belief in the talents our students have to share, inspired by his desire to create a beautiful place for our community to come together – you will see that the awe-inspiring atrium is dedicated in honor of Dr. Russell W. Booker. A venue in and of itself, this atrium will host special events for years to come. Our District 7 family can think of no better place to honor you, Dr. Booker, than one that celebrates and serves our entire district as well as our Spartanburg community – here on this campus that you brought to life.” Watch the presentation at the 1:20 mark in the graduation livestream video above.

At the Board of Trustees meeting on June 2, our Board united with the District 7 family to honor Dr. Booker by elevating the dedication of the atrium to a named space. The Dr. Russell W. Booker Atrium of the District 7 Fine Arts Center will honor the leadership and legacy he leaves imprinted upon our district for generations to come. The Board presented a resolution to Dr. Booker honoring his many contributions to District 7 during his tenure ( read it here ) .

Also during the meeting, City Councilman Jerome Rice issued a proclamation on behalf of the City of Spartanburg honoring Dr. Booker. “As a dedicated educator and experienced administrator, his dynamic brand of leadership has catapulted District 7 into the national spotlight in recent years and garnered the respect of his colleagues near and far. With a heart for children and an unwavering faith in the power of education, Dr. Booker believes our greatest hope for the future is to inspire and equip our students for meaningful lives of leadership and service,” said Mr. Rice.

McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture joined the celebration by announcing plans to establish a scholarship in the Booker family’s name. Ron Smith, managing principal, shared that the firm will provide $1,000 to a deserving Spartanburg High School graduate each year who is a resident of one of the Spartanburg Housing Authority communities.
Above: District 7 Board of Trustees chair Sanders Lee presents the Board's resolution to Dr. Booker.
Above: This photo slideshow highlighting moments from Dr. Booker's tenure provided a backdrop during the graduation presentation.
Last week, plans were announced for the next phase of Dr. Booker's career that illustrate the important work he will continue to do in our community. We look forward to working in partnership with him as he takes the helm at  Spartanburg Academic Movement   and as he and his wife, Sheryl, launch their new business, One Acorn . Under the umbrella of One Acorn , he will be working with the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce to guide implementation of their diversity and economic inclusion plan.
WSPA-TV: Russell Booker to Lead SAM, Support Chamber



Read more
www.wspa.com
Keep D7 Kids Learning & Nourished with Our Summer Resources
From summer reading to virtual storytime to educational programming, we've got you covered! Although we've made the shift from school lessons to summer break, District 7 is dedicated to continuing our support of families in numerous ways.

Please continue to visit our eLearning Resources for Summer Guide on the District and school websites to explore resources and activities to keep your student engaged with learning until school resumes. This includes our media specialists' annual summer reading list with books selected for each reading level! We will continue to add content to this page over the summer.

District 7 is continuing to provide daily breakfast and lunch for anyone under the age of 18. Information is on our website at Summer Meals Drive-Through Service. A new schedule will be posted for the month of July.

We recognize that students and families need social and emotional support more than ever right now. Please visit our website for a wide variety of social and emotional health tips and community resources available.
Enroll Your Child for 2020-2021
It is time to enroll both CURRENT and NEW students in District 7 for the 2020-2021 school year! Letters containing the registration Snapcode for current students were emailed and mailed to homes last week. Enroll your children with this SnapCode via our PowerSchool online registration system located here . Current PowerSchool Parent Portal users should register by logging in to the portal (it is important that portal users not to use a snapcode in order to keep their students' registration linked to their portal account).

Additional information and instructions are available on the Student Enrollment page of our website.
SCENE AROUND SEVEN
We're so proud of our McCarthy Teszler School graduates who were honored at a drive-in ceremony at the school on Friday, May 22.
Londyn Edwards from the Cleveland Academy of Leadership was named the Boys and Girls Club Betsy Williams Youth of the Year 2020. What an amazing honor!
We could never get enough of the cute eLearning pictures of our four year olds from the Early Learning Center! The school is enrolling now for their NAEYC accredited, free, full-day program for next fall.
How does your garden grow? For many D7 students, like the McCracken Eagle pictured above, vegetables were tended and sowed as part of eLearning.
As we finished out this school year in a way we never imagined, District 7 made it possible for students to enjoy one last visit to pick up their belongings. Elementary schools bagged up items in "Peace. Love. Sanitize" totes, and during the last week of school invited families to pick them up as students and teachers said goodbye for the summer. The photos below capture our bittersweet end to the 2019-2020 school year.
The Census drives over $2,600 per person counted into our state every year.

As we remember those who have been standing up to fight for our rights over the past weeks, stand up and be counted by completing your Census! You can  fill it out yourself in about 10 minutes by following this link . Each person counted ensures critical Federal resources for our community.
Stay Tuned this Summer!
Throughout the summer we'll be posting news of summer camps like the BARS Academy summer program above on our social media pages and through Peachjar. If you have a summer enrichment activity you'd like us to share with our students, please email us at communications@spart7.org .

We're happy to share it here first that $200 scholarships for BARS Academy's summer program are now available for Spartanburg county teens through Connect Spartanburg and the OST Collaborative BARS Online is an entertainment and education platform for youth that includes Music & Audio, Business & Life, Photo & Video, Art & Design, and Dance classes.

In waving goodbye to this school year, We wish all our families an amazing summer and wish the Spartanburg High School Class of 2020 a fond farewell! It is the goal of the Office of Communication to keep you up to date on the news, so please stay tuned to the District's Facebook and Twitter pages over the summer break. We'll see you back for our August 2020 edition!

610 Dupre Drive Spartanburg, South Carolina

P: 864.594.4400