New Traffic Pattern at Andrew Jackson starting January 3rd 2018

There is a significant change in entrance to AJ that will begin January 3rd, 2018. The entrance to AJMS will be closed until at least the end of February 2018. This will mean that ALL school traffic will enter through the High School Entrance, and loop around the High School. The High School students will proceed straight for drop off, and the Middle School students will turn right at the corner of the football field and drop off at the side of the Middle School.

The change is to allow for construction in anticipation of the new Multi Purpose Building. Basically, new parking areas must be constructed, so the existing lots can be removed.

With the numbers of vehicles, please plan ahead for possible congestion. Below is a map put out by the district and a post by Brian Vaughn.


“December 21, 2017
Dear AJ High and AJ Middle Parents:
As you know, we are in the midst of a large amount of construction at the AJ High and AJ Middle school complex. We are in the process of building new parking lots and a state of the art multi-purpose building that will serve the AJ area. With this progress comes some imposition and at this time we are forced to close the middle school drop-off and pick-up entrance for about two months. It is the hope of the contractor that the AJ Middle School entrance can be reopened some time near the end of February. When students return to school on January 3rd please be aware that all traffic in to and out of the AJ complex will use the high school entrance.
AJ Middle traffic pattern:
AJ Middle traffic will turn in to the complex at the high school entrance and will travel to the bottom of the hill and then make a right and then circle the entire building at AJ High. Once they have circled the building the traffic will take an immediate right beside the football stadium fence line through the parking lot to now what is the current bus loading area. At that point staff members will guide vehicles in to the bus loading area for the pick-up and drop-off of students. No students will be dropped off or picked up anywhere except for the bus loading area during the two months road closure.
Please be mindful that in the mornings school buses may intermingle with traffic at drop-off points and that school buses will have precedence in drop-offs over vehicles. In the afternoons there will be an established line where car traffic must stop before entering the pick-up area. Buses will be allowed to park and pick-up in this area first. After all buses have been loaded staff members will open the lanes for car rider pick-ups. We understand that this may be a challenging pick-up and drop-off scenario initially but we hope with the cooperation of parents and staff members that we can make it go smoothly and safely.
AJ High traffic pattern:
AJ High drop-off and pick-up will follow the same traffic pattern that is currently used. All AJ High traffic should circle the building in the same direction as the middle school traffic and take the inside lane and drop-off near the front of the school like they are currently doing.
Thank You,
Bryan Vaughn”

Remembering Them

Every year the about this time, the world seems to be brighter and more colorful for most people, but not all. The holidays can be a difficult time for those whose loved ones have died, Here are some tips to help this holiday season.

1. Speak about the loved one. The bereaved are often afraid that the loved one will be forgotten. Your sharing your memories helps reassure them that you will remember.

2. Use the loved one’s name.

3. Do not avoid people because you are worried you might make then grieve. If you do, then they are grieving and isolated.

4. Give them time. Uncomplicated grief can take 18-24 months to resolve, Complicated grief, even longer.

5. Check back in. Most support for a grieving person wanes and drops off after the first two weeks, see number 4.

6. Donate a gift in the loved ones name.

7. Not everyone will be jolly and feel like dancing. Grief and sadness are tough emotions to manage, and they can’t just be turned off. The instruction to just smile and enjoy the season doesn’t work.

8. Be careful with your statements. As strange as if sounds, most of the comforting phrases that are said are not comforting. “He is wrapped in the arms of Jesus now” is hard to hear, when I want him wrapped in my arms.

9. We are never over it.

10. Find a quiet time and give the gift of time and attention by listening to the stories of the loved one. Start off with  “Tell me about…” and then listen and share those moments of remembering them.


Normally a writer would quote a source for these kinds of tips. This would have been Chandler’s 18th Christmas, and Sara’s 17th. I still think about them each day, and no amount of time or grief will erase them from my mind.  These tips have been gleaned from years of learning how to cope with their deaths. I have written numerous times about this same issue, it is becoming my Christmas tradition. I do this for those who don’t know how to tell you. They have not found their voice to tell you what they need. Some may not even know what they need. I speak for them.


Kershaw News Era Has Been Purchased

In a online news release, the Lancaster News is reporting that the Kershaw News Era has been purchased by Andy O’Byrne who is the publisher for the Aiken Leader and Calhoun Times Leader.

Efforts are being made to get a paper published by Friday so there would be no missed editions according to the Lancaster News Report.

Many have been concerned in the community that the News Era would cease to exist. This will relieve many worried residents. It would appear that the paper will still be produced in the Hart Street office, but printed in Georgia where O’Bryne’s family owns a newspaper printing operations. This would be a change, as the News Era was formally printed at the Lancaster News Print operation in Lancaster. The Lancaster News currently prints the local papers from Pageland, Indian Land, Lancaster. The News Era was one of the few non-Landmark newspapers printed in Lancaster.

AJ Student takes top School and District Poetry Outloud honors for 2nd year

If We Must Die
by Claude McKay

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs
Making their mock at our accursed lot
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, Dying, but fighting back!

Taylor Wade

For the second year, Taylor Wade has won the School and District Poetry Outloud competition. Poetry Outloud is a poetry recitation contest that has local, state, and national contests. More than just reading a poem, the students have to memorize their poems, and use tone and inflection appropriate to the authors intent. This means the student must research the poem and poet.

The students are judges on 5 different aspects, Physical Presence, Voice and Articulation, Dramatic Appropriateness, Evidence of Understanding, and Overall Performance. Each aspect can earn a 1-6 score, and produce a score maximum of 33 points. Accuracy of presentation score can add up to 8 additional points, for a maximum of 41 points.

The Poetry Outloud process has met NCTE English Language Arts Standards, and Common Core Standards. AJ High School Drama teacher Katrina Bernsdorff and School Poetry Outloud coordinator is proud of each student who participated.  This year’s participants were Taylor Wade, Gabe Reeves, Shyasia McIlwain, Ty’Juan Reyes,  Oniah Papillion, Alex Campbell, Katie McBride, Owen Broadway and Chelsea Johnson.

For more information go to

Editor Thoughts… Glimpsing my impact

The impact you have on any other person in the world is often beyond your view. I think this is so for me. I have had the vague notions of how I have impacted others. Did I help this person grow into a healthy person?  Have the nightmares stopped for this one? I can answer them, as I chose, and often time choose the positive. Maybe that is presumptive on my part, but it makes my sense of self feel stronger. Maybe we all do that.

This past week, I had the opportunity to go shoot some very caring people who were going to help a large group of families with Christmas. Pretty standard fare for me. Go out shoot some pictures , grab some background, and write it up by the end of the day.

This was one of those twinkling days, that we can’t see coming. They blindside you with awareness, and teach you something, like it or not. I was about to be schooled in life.  A little girl was to be my teacher.

Some will recall that Jim McKeown died recently. More than once, someone has confused me for him, and asked about ad rates or when I am going to put such and such in the paper. I have gotten used to it. I suppose we loosely favor one another. Probably the whitish beard.

So I walk into the gym of this church, and marvel at the abundance there. I notice out of the corner of my eye, two young girls I have known for a long time. They are always excited to see me. The oldest one gave me that smile she always seems to have. The younger one, was reserved and avoided eye contact, something I noticed right off. And promptly chalked it up to being 7am in the morning. Heck, I was half asleep. I moved on to taking pictures.

I walked around and eventually made it back to this young girl, and by now several of her friends. They saw the camera, and started making faces for me to snap a picture. I shot a few, and then there should have been a flash or crack of lighting to signal the lesson about to approach. This young woman looked me in the eye and said “I saw a picture in the paper, and I thought you had died. I cried.”

I tell you my heart skipped a beat, and I froze. I knew what she was saying, and yet what do you say? I could tell she was relieved, and yet, I could imagine the heartache that thinking someone you knew had died.  I reassured her, I would be here a long while (I hope that was truthful). Satisfied, she ran off to join the other youth.

I am not going to forget that moment. I was given the quickest and deepest glance into my impact on others. It came from a corner of life I never expected. Be aware that while they may not tell you as clearly as I was told, there is this person in your life as well.  You have an impact in ways you scarcely understand

In the dark, KCPC confronts the Kershaw Town Council over Stevens Park Plans

The December 6th edition of The Lancaster News contained a bombshell for members of the Kershaw Community Park Council. It detailed efforts of the Kershaw Town Council to present a proposal for the County Parks and Recreation Department to assume 22 acre Steven’s Park into the county system of parks. This proposal was presented without contacts or discussions with the KCPC. Several members believe this may foreshadow efforts to close the park.

During Monday’s Town Council meeting, Beverly Timmons updated efforts to raise funds for the Haile Gold Mine Playground. KCPC has entered into discussions with Play by Design to design a new playground equipment. The Town Council had given KCPC until Dec 31st 2017 to raise the funds for the new equipment. KCPC has raised $111,500 of $375,000. Timmons reported that one of the grantors had changed their grant cycles, and they would need until the end of February 2018 to see if that group would help with funds.  Jody Connell suggested that due to the possible discussions with the county, the issue of the possible extension of time for KCPC should be tabled.

The suggestion of the extension being tabled created several layers of confusion. Timmons questioned if KCPC should continue to fund raise as “we would hate to raise funds for a park that will not be.” She also questions the Council authority to dispose of the Stevens Park property if it included the playground property, She suggested that in 2007, an ordinance was passed by Town Council that excluded the playground property from being sold or transferred with the rest of the park property.

The Town Council made a formal motion to table the possible extension, and it passed unanimously. The issue of the December 31st deadline was questioned, and Mayor Dorman indicated it was no longer applicable as the County Recreation Committee would not meet until January, so the Town would not learn about their proposal until at least then. The issue of continuing to fund raise was readdressed, and Mayor Dorman indicated that KCPC could continue to try and raise the monies for the playground.  Harvey Truesdale voiced that the Town Council wanted to keep the park open, and their efforts were to allow that to happen, not to close the park.

In the dark of the evening, more questions that answers seemed to be found. The members of KCPC hope for more information and that town leaders will communicate with them rather than to keep them in the dark.

3 Seconds to Victory

The Go ahead free throw by Shieme Ricks

A free throw in the fourth quarter by Shieme Ricks put the Vols over the top in a hard fought battle with the Central High Eagles. The Vols fought hard to secure their victory of 43-39, The Lady Vols dominated the Lady Eagles, walking off the court with a 55-32 victory.

The AJ boys fell behind early in the first quarter with a score of 7 -10. At the half, the Vols were down by 7 points, 15-22. For both teams, fouls was a factor. AJ had 22 team fouls, and Central had 23 team fouls.  AJ had 9 turnovers and Central had 6.

The Eagles peaked in scoring during the first half, and were outscored by the Vols in the third and fourth quarters. The third quarter ended with the Vols gaining back three points to put them down by 4, 27-31,

The final quarter saw the Vols score enough to tie the game at 39 all with under three minutes to play. Shieme Ricks was fouled with 3 seconds left in the game. His free throws put the Vols ahead, and they did not look back. Adding four points at the end of the game to secure the win.

Jamie Hinson and Shieme Ricks both scored 12 points each. Jamie had one trey, and Shieme had two.  Joey Walters joined in with 10 points, with one trey. Cam Vincent had two treys to bring in 6 points. OJ White, Daymond Cunningham, and Griffin Gardner each made a free throw for one point each.

“I told the guys, just believe.” Said AJ coach Danny Wright. “We could not get any shots going. They played smart, and played to the end. I am proud of my guys. We were able to come back and get a win.”

Brandon Edward was high scorer for the Eagles with 10 points.

For the Lady Vols, the game was in their control the entire time. They took a 16 to 0 lead in the first quarter. By half time the score was 29 to 11. The third quarter saw the Lady Vols dominate the boards, raising the score to 50 to 21. They outscored the Lady Eagles in the third by 11 points.  The final score was 55 to 32. The Lady Vols turned it over more with 19 turnovers to the lady Eagles 12. The Lady Vols also lead team fouls with 17 to the Lady Eagles’ 12.  Shiyana Threatt brought the bulk of the Lady Eagles’ points with a total of 20 in her column

For the Lady Vols, Makaylan Crosby was top scorer with 14 points from 7 baskets. Raegan Brewer came in second with 13 points from 3 baskets, 2 treys and a free throw. Danielle Ussery sank 5 baskets for her 10 points. Caroline Wrenn had 4 baskets for 8 points. Iesha Williams had three baskets and a free throw for her 7 points. Mackenzie Marshall had a basket and free throw to add 3 points to team totals.

“We played strong first quarter, it was kind of a roller coaster game.” Said AJ coach ShaRon Robertson, “Overall great production, great offense and great defense” were the keys to the win according to Robertson.

81 Families

Flint Ridge0053
Community Volunteers ready for the families to arrive.

Waiting in the Flint Ridge Baptist Church Activity Building were 81 bicycles, and many overflowing tables of Christmas toys. A room full of volunteers arrived at 7:00am on Saturday Morning to take care of 81 families who registered for the event.

The volunteers were from the surrounding community and local churches. The youngest volunteers walked with an adult volunteer and as the parents picked out an item, the youth ran the gift to a group who wrapped each gift and applied a label.

Each child received two new toys, two gently used toys, and a filled stocking. Each family received one bicycle. KARE provided items that could be picked up in addition to the toys. Each family will receive a certificate for a ham, and flour and sugar.

Kelvin Hinson, pastor for Flint Ridge, was very pleased with the turnout of volunteers and the generosity of the community. “This not just our church, but for various churches, and many community members.” He said.

The families arrived two at a time every 15 minutes from 8:00am to 6:00pm. While the Gym is full of toys and bikes, the hope is to help as may people as possible. The initial year saw 16 families helped, who knows how many will be helped next year. One thing is certain, on Sunday, many thanks will be given for the ability to serve, and the work for the 2018 event will begin.

AJ Sounds of Season

The AJHS Choral Department Proudly presented Sounds of The Season on Thursday night in the AJHS auditorium. Directed by Lizzi Elliott, the presentation combined formal choral performances with more relaxed popular music.

Various Groups of singers included Chorus 1, Combined Choirs, Women’s Ensemble, Chorus Select, Chorus Select Men, Senior Women’s Ensemble, Show Choir.