Middle School Science Champs are Clinton’s Best-Kept Secret


Dr. J. Justin Brent

Justin Brent

If I were to call the city of Clinton an Intellectual Hamlet at the Heart of South Carolina, many on campus would snicker and offer a sarcastic snub–yeah right! And yet, it’s most decidedly true, even if it is a well-guarded secret.

Those who know our secret probably know something about Middle and High School Science Olympiad. On Saturday, January 30th, 2016, Clinton Middle School (CMS) won its fourteenth straight Science Olympiad State Championship. To be more accurate, they didn’t just win; they blew the competition out of the water.

The success of the Middle School team has spread to the high school, which is beginning to establish its own dynasty. In a few weeks, Clinton High School (CHS) will try to win its own state championship; if they do, it will be for the seventh time out of the last eight years.

Both CMS and CHS Academic Bowl teams are also heating up, with some impressive wins over local rivals. If they in upcoming years have the success at state that the Science teams have experienced, our “Best-Kept Secret” will be difficult to guard!

The question is, how do we keep the magic going? Shouldn’t more people know about our talented town? And can PC play a role? No one has thought more about this topic than Dr. and Mrs. O’Shields. For them, PC could play a huge role by hosting an Academic Team Invitational on campus.

I asked Mrs. O’Shields how the Invitational might benefit our community: “It would be wonderful to bring academically motivated students to our community. I believe that academic competition is always a win-win proposition, in that preparation creates knowledge. We are so proud of the resources in our community, maybe it is time to show them off a little!”

Dr. O’Shields agrees, noting that our academic excellence goes back to the 1980s: ”The Clinton High School Academic Team in 1992 finished 2nd in the Texaco Star National Academic Championship at Rice University. Presbyterian College has always partnered with the District and now we wish to partner again with them to bring some of the region’s best and brightest to Clinton. Just because we are small, does not mean that we can’t compete on the national level.”

Of course, hosting an Academic Invitational requires a significant commitment of time and energy. Would it be worth it for PC?

According to Mr. Brian Fortman, Dean of Enrollment at PC, the answer is an emphatic Yes: “With our long-standing tradition in academics and liberal arts, the Invitational gives high-achieving high school students an opportunity to interact with PC faculty members and appreciate our historic, beautiful campus. I can’t think of a better reason to bring students to campus.”

Given these positives, the college has begun forming a committee to plan this Academic Invitational Tournament for the Spring of 2017. The committee is eager to find people willing to partner with this initiative. If you are one of these people, please let Dean Fortman know ([email protected]).