"GP2W" stands for Great Place To Work. The four characters serve as a reminder in communication among our staff of the culture of our district. Each week through the school year, our website will feature an article on one of our schools or departments explaining why their site is a Great Place To Work!
by Marion Lawson, principal
Pickens High School is the centerpiece for the BLUE FLAME NATION! Emphasizing Integrity first, Service above self, and Excellence in all we do, the Blue Flame way combines the efforts of our faculty, staff, students, parents, School Improvement Council (SIC), and the community to ensure a quality education for our students.
Pickens High School is a High Schools That Work (HSTW) site. Our teachers incorporate HSTW research-proven strategies into their instruction in order to provide students with rigorous and relevant educational opportunities. Fostering a family atmosphere where relationships are valued is a key element to the culture of the school. Appropriate expectations of students and effective teaching are guided by the HSTW 10 Key Practices.
Our teachers and staff have embraced the Blue Flame way by being student-centered and caring. One example of our outstanding teachers is our Teacher of the Year, Karen Williamson. Mrs. Williamson is an eleventh grade English teacher who works diligently to assist students as they strive toward their individual goals for college and career. She holds high standards for her students by emphasizing critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication skills, and the use of technology. Her instruction engages students and prepares them to meet South Carolina Curriculum Standards at the highest levels. It is exciting to know that she will be moving into the Media Center next year where she will be even more influential because she will be in direct contact with even more students across all grade levels. Karen and her husband Bill have one son, Jacob, who is a freshman at PHS.
The support staff at PHS add so much to our culture of excellence by working for the good of the students and enhancing the environment of the school through exemplary customer service. A wonderful example is our Support Employee of the Year, Bonnie Stewart. Mrs. Stewart is our Registrar. In this role, she is often the first person to greet a new student or one who may transfer from another school. She is the voice of PHS to our sister schools as she sends and receives transcripts and records. She also deals with records and correspondence with the South Carolina Department of Education as well as the School District of Pickens County. Ever professional, Mrs. Stewart exhibits excellence, poise, and commitment to the Blue Flame way as a representative of PHS to the public. Bonnie and her husband, Ronnie, have two children and two grandchildren.
150 Blue Flame Drive feels like home after our fourth year in the new school. The new facilities and available technology are used every day to provide a World Class education that will prepare our 1,350 students for life and work in the 21st Century. Many of our students take advantage of our Career and Technology Center offerings as they prepare for post-secondary education.
Hundreds of our students are involved in activities beyond the classroom – our 3 to 6 p.m. initiative – through plays, concerts, pageants, athletic events, ball games, and other competitions. Many of our students have earned local and state level recognition for outstanding performances. Our volleyball team won their 15th State Championship in the fall. Our Blue Flame Band earned Superior ratings in many competitions and placed fourth in the state competition. Our ROTC Leadership Team earned a spot in the national competition to be held this summer in Washington, DC as one of the top 16 high school teams in the US. Through the leadership of one of our teachers, our strings and chorus students recently participated in an area-wide arts program called Electrify Your Strings which was hosted here at PHS. It was electric!
Students in our Beta, Interact, and Spanish Clubs regularly assist the Pickens community through service learning projects. In cooperation with the Pickens Fire Department, hands-only CPR training was held for all 9th graders. We have students who read and tutor in area elementary schools as well as spend many volunteer hours through local agencies. Through many activities, the Pickens community as a whole can enjoy Pickens High School and experience the Blue Flame way!