Second graders in Kerry DalSanto's class at St. Mary Help of Christians School displayed their “reel” talents recently during the 22nd annual Shoebox Film Festival.

The students premiered their films at a special after-school matinee for parents and friends.

To create their films, the students wrote and illustrated a story they created using their imaginations. Then, they taped the pages together end-to-end and attached them to two tubes and inserted them into two holes cut in the ends of a shoebox.

The creative process takes about eight weeks.

“They come up with a list of possible stories, characters and problems,” DalSanto said. “Then, they develop a draft, edit and revise it, and then publish on sheets of paper that are wound around the tubes. They're just thrilled with their results and can't believe that they did it.”

This year's films included lots of lost-and-found stories, DalSanto said.

“Some make their way home through portals, some through time machines, and there's a pretty good sprinkling of dinosaurs in many of the stories,” she said.

In addition to expanding the students' imaginations, the project emphasizes language arts skills.

“The students wind up – that's a pun – learning that their writing is important,” DalSanto said. "They can entertain people. They learn that handwriting is important and must be legible and that sentences make sense. Their handwriting improves because of this experience.”

In 22 years, the film festival has become a St. Mary tradition, DalSanto said.

“The second graders read their stories to kindergarten and first grade students this morning,” she said. “When the current first graders come to second grade, the first thing they want to know is if they're going to get to write and read stories for the kindergarten and first grade students, too.”

School Board recognizes student achievements

The Aiken County School Board recognized the Wagener-Salley High School 2018-19 golf team at its regular meeting May 14.

The team won the Class-A Golf State Championship at Indian Trail Golf Club in Batesburg-Leesville on May 6.

The team's victory is the first golf state championship is the school's history. The team finished ahead of 12 other schools.

The board also recognized the War Eagles Battalion at Wagener-Salley High School.

The battalion participated in a JROTC program accreditation, receiving a combined score of 96.5 in areas including unit record, color guard and cadet drill.

The program evaluates secondary education institutions and drill instructors.

The board recognized youth leaders chosen for the Washington, D.C., Youth Tour and the Cooperative Youth Summit.

The tour allowed students to bond with leaders in other ares, meet elected officials and visit museums, memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C. The summit allowed students to experience South Carolina's state capital, meet lawmakers and learn how co-ops are preparing for the state's energy future.

School Board recognizes community supporters

Members of the Aiken County School Board recognized a local individual, a business and an organization for their support of Aiken County Public Schools on May 14 at the board's regular meeting.

John Travis, an adviser for Richard Young Associates and a co-host of the MoneyMD podcast, has contributed more than $20,000 to local schools for personal finance classes.

The classes started at South Aiken High School and have spread to Midland Valley High School, North Augusta High School and Paul Knox Middle School in North Augusta.

Travis is a 1986 graduate of North Augusta High.

The board recognized Graniteville Specialty Fabrics for donating American and South Carolina flags to the school district and for the company's support of the Early College program at Midland Valley High.

The program allows students to earn an associate degree from Aiken Technical College while still in high school. The program's first cohort graduated in early May, receiving their associate degrees before their high school diplomas.

The board also recognized the American Heart Association for donating CPR in the Schools training kits to Silver Bluff High School. At least once during four years, students in grades nine through 12 will receive training in CPR.

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.