Beaufort students get statewide award for essay on importance of education

A Lady's Island Middle School student has won top honors in a statewide competition, the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee announced today, for an entry on the topic of "What does education mean to me and my future?" 

Mattie Jo Thomas, a Lady's Island eighth-grader, was the overall state winner among middle school contestants and received an iPad courtesy of private donations. 

Students were asked to write an essay, create a poster or take a photograph. 

Thomas submitted an original black-and-white photo of two hands holding a satellite picture of the earth. The caption reads, "The world is at my fingertips. Education will determine the course my life takes." 

Two students from Beaufort Middle School were runners up.

EOC representatives, including State Rep. Andy Patrick from Beaufort County and EOC Interim Executive Director Melanie Barton, presented the award today.

The overall winner at the elementary level was Sydney Echols, a fifth-grader at Hammond Hill Elementary in North Augusta.

The statewide contest highlighted the EOC's 2020 Vision, a plan to drive educational improvement in the state. The 2020 Vision sets the goal that by the year 2020, all South Carolina students will graduate with the knowledge and skills to compete in the global economy.

There were 1,076 entries from students who attend public, private and home schools. Individuals from the Writing Improvement Network, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the South Carolina State Library assisted in judging the entries.

Teachers Lynn Jester and Cadra Rooney coordinated student entries at Lady's Island Middle School.

Runners up at the middle school level were two Beaufort Middle School students, seventh-grader Wilson Wallace and eighth-grader Hannah Perry. The teacher was Stephanie Luzny. Runner-up winners received $50 gift cards to Books-a-Million. 

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