Hammond Hill Elementary School has reached the finals for the 2013 Palmetto’s Finest Schools Awards – one of three elementary schools eligible statewide for the honor.

Eight schools overall have been selected as finalists. Judges with the Palmetto’s Finest program will select one or two of the elementary schools as winners, said Hammond Hill Principal Janet Vaughan.

The school will invite students and parents to attend a streaming of the formal announcement of the awards on March 11 at 4 p.m. Aiken County School Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt and other district officials are scheduled to attend the event, which will be held in the Hammond Hill cafeteria.

The awards include elements of student achievement, instructional programs, professional learning communities and school culture.

“It has been a big year for us here at Hammond Hill,” Vaughan said. “We are extremely pleased to be selected as one of three elementary schools … We have to have something that is working right.”

The school is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. In November, Hammond Hill was named as a National Blue Ribbon recipient, and Vaughan received that award in Washington, D.C.

“That is the highest award a school can achieve,” Vaughan said. “We are also honored to be considered for a state award that focuses on innovative programs and academic success.”

The past year has also included a courtyard renovation. Hammond Hill was selected to be featured in the Tour of Homes.

The other elementary schools included in the nomination are Ft. Dorchester Elementary in Dorchester School District 2 and Jesse Boyd Elementary in Spartanburg District 7. The other finalists are CrossRoads Middle, Hanahan Middle, Ashley Ridge High, East Clarendon Middle/High and Marrington Middle School of the Arts.

Hammond Hill will face another round of judges, who will visit each of the elementary schools. The school has already been chosen as one of the top three from an original field of 12, Vaughan said.

Three Aiken County schools have previously won the Palmetto’s Finest award, said district academic officer Peggy Trivelas – North Augusta Elementary School, Aiken Elementary School and Leavelle McCampbell Middle School.

“The staff at Hammond Hill works exceptionally hard to make sure it is a community school,” Trivelas said. “It’s not only what they do to support the children so well academically. It’s how they work with the community, as well. Mrs. Vaughan is involved with every aspect and is determined to make it a model for excellence in North Augusta.”