Wrestling & Competitive Cheerleading

Dr. Ameca Thomas was named as the next superintendent of District 55, Laurens, on a 5-2 board vote Monday night. Thomas is a Laurens District High School graduate and former district Teacher of the Year. She is currently Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. She is the former principal at E.B. Morse Elementary School who also has served Laurens Middle and Sanders, as well as short stints outside the district at Woodruff Primary School and Silver Bluff High School in New Ellenton. She will replace Dr. Stephen Peters, who resigned, on July 1.

New Sports for CHS.



Clinton High School Athletics Director Louie Alexander has proposed adding wrestling and competitive cheerleading to the Red Devil sports offerings as early as the next school year. The move would require adding about $50,000 to the CHS Athletics budget.

“Clinton High School is a sleeper in wrestling. It is a blue-collar sport and that’s what most of our people are, hard-working people. It is for the small kid and the big kid – it would give kids who have never been part of anything, a sense of pride in their school,” Alexander told the District 56 Board of Trustees Monday evening. There were no objections from the five board members – Chairman Jim Barton and member Edna McGee were absent.

Alexander conceded that competitive cheer is “very expensive,” but he said participants and coaches would be willing to do fund-raising. “If we go ahead and get started,” Alexander said, “these programs will benefit our school tremendously.”

The game-day cheerleading program will remain, and participants who believe they can handle the extra work can try out for both squads. Competitive cheer involves more tumbling and gymnastics than game-day cheer, though Alexander said the game-day cheer program remains very important for other teams’ and the students’ morale. Current coaches can do both; Alexander said the stipends for these positions should be elevated to the pay level of an assistant football coach. The high school will have to wait for a teaching position to become available before considering the hiring of someone who can fill the academic position and has an interest in being the wrestling coach.

Last year, the CHS game-day cheerleaders took 3rd in a competitive cheer competition for AAA and AA schools. This year, the team took 2nd in a similar competition for AAA high schools in the state. As for wrestling, Alexander said most football-playing schools in South Carolina also offer the sport.

“In our region, we may be the only one with no wrestling,” Alexander said. “Union County and Emerald (in Clinton’s AAA region) do not have competitive cheerleading.” The matter will be revisited by the board as it develops the FY21 budget.

In other business, the district received an “unmodified” (clean) audit opinion. Finance Director Lynn Lawson said District 56 ended the fiscal year with a $7 million general fund fund-balance (the “rainy-day” fund).

“This was a very good report,” Lawson said. The district is “very conservative” in budgeting revenues and expenses, he said.

The next District 56 board meeting will be Monday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m. in the Joanna Woodson Elementary media center. Board members were invited to upcoming events, including Feb. 4, 1st grade family night, 5-6 p.m., Eastside Elementary, and family literacy night, 5-7 p.m., at Joanna Woodson; and Feb. 11, family math night, 4:30-5:30 p.m., at the MS Bailey Child Development Center. – Vic MacDonald


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