On behalf of Horry County Schools and the Horry County Board of Education, I am pleased to present our 2020-2021 State Report Card, a summary of progress in upholding our commitment that all students develop the World Class Skills of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. Our students, parents, teachers, and administration faced unprecedented challenges this school year as we embraced a “new normal,” developed, and implemented innovative methods for providing effective instruction in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mandated school closures in South Carolina and other school districts nationwide resulted in the cancellation of state and federally mandated accountability assessments typically administered in the spring. While this report includes information about student performance, numbers alone do not speak to the energy and creative efforts that contribute to that performance. District staff, school administrators, and teachers came together in extraordinary measures to ensure HCS students had access to effective instruction in a new eLearning environment. Even in the midst of a pandemic, HCS remains committed to looking continuously for ways to improve the K-12 educational experience, and we celebrate the many accomplishments and achievements that validate the talents of our students, as well as the professional commitment of our staff.
HCS launched its first Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program in 2011 at the Academy for the Arts, Science, & Technology. In 2019, HCS launched a comprehensive K-12 STEM initiative. Collaborating with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a nationally recognized leader in STEM education, HCS invested $2 million to support teacher training, industry-endorsed curriculum, instructional materials, and a wealth of networking and resources for both teachers and students. Focusing on the areas of biomedical science, computer science, and engineering, the partnership provides current connections between instructional best practices and industry leaders. The Class of 2022 will be the first graduates able to earn a STEM Specialization Seal for their South Carolina High School Diploma by completing four elective STEM courses, two of which must be at the honors level or higher.
In 2019-20, the District, our schools, our students, and our staff received numerous recognitions and awards recognizing our commitment to educational excellence. Ocean Bay Elementary School was one of four schools in the state to receive the National Blue Ribbon School award in 2019, the highest honor a school can receive from the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. News & World Report released its annual Best High Schools rankings for 2020, showing St. James High School among the top 10 high schools in South Carolina. St. James High School ranked ninth in the state, including traditional, magnet, charter, and STEM high schools. SAT results reported in the fall of 2019 show that HCS continues to outpace the national average, even with an increase of 33 percent of students taking the test. The District’s composite for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) and Mathematics is 1044, five points above the national composite of 1039, and 23 points higher than the state composite of 1021. ACT results for graduates in the class of 2019 demonstrated gains in student performance. The average composite for HCS was 19.0, seven-tenths of one point higher than the average composite of 18.3 reported in 2018. Six District schools had 2019 AP passage rates that surpassed the national average. They are the Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology, 81 percent; St. James High School, 73 percent; Carolina Forest High School, 72 percent; Socastee High School, 68 percent; North Myrtle Beach High School, 65 percent; and Myrtle Beach High School, 62 percent. Nineteen HCS schools received Palmetto Gold and Silver awards for state report cards issued on October 1, 2019, for the 2018-2019 school year. Palmetto Gold winners were HCS Early College High School, Forestbrook Middle School, Socastee Middle School, Kingston Elementary School, and Midland Elementary School. Palmetto Silver award winners are Aynor High School, Socastee High School, St. James High School, Ten Oaks Middle School, St. James Middle School, Ocean Bay Middle School, Aynor Elementary School, St. James Elementary School, Seaside Elementary School, Palmetto Bays Elementary School, River Oaks Elementary School, Ocean Drive Elementary School, Riverside Elementary School.
Information gathered for the Class of 2020 reflects the competitive edge gained when students take a rigorous road to graduation. In June 2020, 2,715 students graduated from 10 high schools with 75 percent of those graduates indicating they were advancing to higher education. They earned $75 million in scholarships and a record-setting 91 percent of college-bound students qualified for scholarships supported by the South Carolina Education Lottery. Many students got a jump start and cost savings on college, having collectively earned 3,185 dual-credit courses. Five Horry County Schools seniors were named winners of National Merit $2,500 Scholarships: Ryan Bao, the Scholars Academy and Carolina Forest High School; Kaitlyn Grace Rielly, the Scholars Academy and Carolina Forest High School; William A. Truluck, the Scholars Academy and Myrtle Beach High School; Lexington A. Whalen, St. James High School; and Thomas C. Young, St. James High School. Two Horry County Schools students were chosen as semifinalists for the 2020 United States Senate Youth Program. Semifinalists from HCS include Rafael Adi of the Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology and Carolina Forest High School and Thomas Riga of Myrtle Beach High School. Mary Quinn Fullwood, a senior at Myrtle Beach High School, was selected as the 2020 Work-Based Learning Student of the Year for the Waccamaw Region.
For a second consecutive year, HCS received the prestigious Best Communities for Music Education designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation. HCS is one of only six school districts in South Carolina to have earned the designation awarded in 2019 and 2020.
Athletics remain strong in HCS schools. The Green Sea Floyds High School football team earned an impressive back-to-back state title in Class A. Likewise; the North Myrtle Beach High School Lady Chiefs won their second straight State Championship in Class AAAA Volleyball. Myrtle Beach High School’s Ian Morgan claimed two state titles in Class AAAA boys’ swimming, the boys’ 500 Yard Freestyle, and the boys’ 200 Yard Individual Medley for 2019.
The 2019-2020 school year proved to be a historic one. One that will continue to impact education as an institution in ways yet considered. Throughout this challenging school year, HCS held firm to the commitment of our core values. During the school closure period, HCS Nutrition Services and community partners provided over 406,700 meals to students across the county. In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education, availability to free, wireless internet access utilizing school buses was provided to our students around the county. As we adjust to the "new normal,” we will continue to provide effective instruction in a safe and healthy environment for our students and our staff. We continue to look for innovative ways to inspire new possibilities within our students. Most important, we will always uphold great reverence for the sacred trust our parents and community have placed in us to prepare a new generation for college, careers, and citizenship.
Dr. Rick Maxey, Superintendent
Ken Richardson, Chairman of the Horry County Board of Education