Orange Grove graduates its first 8th grade class

Orange Grove graduates its first 8th grade class
July 30 18:12 2018 Print This Article

2018 marked the first year that Orange Grove Charter School held an 8th grade graduation ceremony. The school’s elementary program had long been recognized as a beacon of excellence in West Ashley public education, and the middle school program began during the 2015-2016 school year with its first 6th grade class. Principal John Clendaniel told the 8th grade class, families and guests that they have been the school leaders for four straight years, starting in 5th grade. He told the class, “I have known many of you by name since you were in kindergarten. You all have a special place in my heart as I’ve seen you grow up.”

The 102 middle school graduates have accomplished a lot. They have earned high school credits in computer science, Algebra I, Honors Geometry and Spanish I. About half of the students participated in 11 different sports teams, and some participated in high school sports at West Ashley High School. Many participated in Quiz Bowl, Quest, debate, student council, journalism, and a running and empowerment club for girls. A plurality of the graduates (40) are enrolling at West Ashley High School in August. 53 students will enroll at other charter schools in Charleston County, including 36 at James Island Charter High School.

Clendaniel credited Orange Grove parents for helping the middle school secure the former Oakland Elementary School building in 2015. School volunteers had less than two months to get the building ready for the 6th grade class in August 2015, putting in long hours painting, cleaning and landscaping. The elementary and middle schools operate a bus service. Most of the bus drivers are teachers and staff at the schools. The buses are also used to transport students to field trips and activities.

West Ashley realtors say that Orange Grove Elementary and Middle schools are major selling points for surrounding neighborhoods in the school¬†attendance zone. Clendaniel said that there were more than 400 applications submitted for the kindergarten class during the 2018-2019 enrollment period and that all students in the attendance zone were admitted. Orange Grove consistently has a retention rate of greater than 95% at all grade levels, so kindergarten enrollment plays a large roll in a student’s opportunity to attend.

Clendaniel praised the sense of community at the school. He said of the 8th grade graduates, “They looked out for each other. They were comfortable with each other – almost like brothers and sisters.” He told the students students that he wants them to stay connected to the school and let him know about their future accomplishments. Closing the ceremony, Clendaniel said, “I love you, I’m proud of you, I believe in you, and I’ll always be there for you! You’re going to do great things!”