District News

TCCHS’ Patel selected for WYT Heali Patel

A genuine excitement for and interest in the nation’s government and history led one Thomas County Central High School student to a prestigious recognition.

Grady Electric Membership Corp., or Grady EMC, selected junior Heali Patel as its representative on the 2024 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, commonly called the Washington Youth Tour. Patel prevailed over several other applicants in Thomasville and Thomas County.

“I feel blessed to be selected to represent my school, community, and even my state on this tour,” Patel said. “I was elated when I heard that I was chosen. I immediately called my mom to tell her the good news. Then, I rushed to find Mrs. [Erin] White and Dr. [Erin] Rehberg.”

This trip is a week-long immersion into the nation’s capital to learn more about its history and government. Erin White, system MERIT director and Advanced Placement coordinator, told Patel about the tour.

“It’s a great opportunity for Heali, and I’m so excited that she’ll get to represent our community,” White said. “Heali interacts with people very well and is very interested in public service.”

TCCHS Assistant Principal Dr. Erin Rehberg said the school’s thrilled Patel received this selection. Joining Patel will be high school students selected by other electric cooperatives from around the state and nationwide. 

“This opportunity promises an extraordinary adventure for students, and I am confident that Heali will thrive amidst the company of fellow high-achieving peers from across the state as she explores the nation's capital,” Rehberg said.

TCMS's Woodfin named STEM Scholar Woodfin with Sweeting

Georgia Youth Science & Technology Centers (GYSTC) has recently awarded Thomas County Middle School science teacher Clayton Woodfin with the 2024 Georgia STEM Scholar Award. As part of this special recognition, he received a $500 grant to purchase STEM education materials for his classroom, as well as free admission to attend the GYSTC Summer STEM Institute.

Woodfin is one of twenty-five other educators throughout the state of Georgia to receive this award. He believes that Thomas County Middle School provides a great foundation for STEM education.

"I feel really honored to be recognized by the GYSTC for the work I do with our students every day,” Woodfin said. “The money from the award will be spent on EEG headbands, which will allow our students to carry out science fair projects that study brain waves."

The Georgia STEM Scholar Award recognizes outstanding certified teachers in grades K-8 who are working to integrate effective STEM education in their classrooms. Georgia STEM Scholars demonstrate a passion and determination to provide students with innovative and challenging STEM experiences along with creating an atmosphere of exploration that excites, energizes, and equips students to pursue enhanced educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math.  

The GYSTC Summer STEM Institute will be held in June at Kennesaw State University. During the Institute, teachers will participate in Super STEM Challenges, Robotics and Coding Activities, and Top 10 STEM Explorations. In addition, teachers will develop their own engaging STEM Challenge to be shared with their teaching colleagues.


TCCHS duo headed to state tech competition Patel

Two youth in Thomas County Central High School’s computer science program recently designed their way to a state contest. 

Students Dev Patel and Manthan Patel won first place in Internet Applications at the Georgia Student Technology Competition region-level event held Feb. 1 in Bainbridge.

“I am proud of them, and I want to point out that they did all the work,” TCCHS computer science teacher and Future Business Leaders of America adviser Mark Thompson said. “All I did was provide feedback.”

The duo created their website as one of their FBLA projects. Website Design has been on the FBLA competition docket for a while but mainly focuses on layout. Participants often use site layout software; however, Thompson said Website Coding and Development – the duo’s event – is a new state competition category this year. 

“What is unique about the new category is that the students must learn and display proficiency in writing code to make the site,” Thompson said. “They cannot use site layout software. This is much more difficult but can make unique web pages that cannot be replicated using layout software. This new category will allow computer science students to show off their coding skills.”

The project was eligible for the GaSTC, so the duo entered to gain more experience and feedback on their design. Their entry was a website built for St. James, a local restaurant. 

Eleventh-grader Dev Patel said the FBLA project prompt was to make a website that included a job application for a local business, but they took this idea further. 

TCMS students win at regional science fair TCMS Science Fair

Thomas County Middle School students recently participated in the Regional Science Fair held at ABAC in Tifton.  All 25 students who competed came home with a ribbon, and 10 students will move on to the Georgia State Science & Engineering Fair to be held at the University of Georgia on April 11-13 in Athens.  

Students who received third place include Brian Cauly, Zack Christie, Brady Smith, Emilie Hart, Abbie Love, and Aiden Wright. Students who received second place were Sam Parker, Payton Lohmueller, Ally Ballard, Eli Connell, Ava Rich, Riley Slocumb, Parker Strickland, and Kate Thedford. First place winners were Lyra McClain, Carter Adams, Brooklyn Blodgett, Ben Bailey, Aaron Irvin, Jayleigh Rex, Daniel Thompson, Kassie White, Ava Bishop, Braylee Hall, and Graham Gaines.  

The following students will move on to the state competition:  Lyra McClain, Carter Adams, Brooklyn Blodgett, Ben Bailey, Aaron Irvin, Jayleigh Rex, Daniel Thompson, Kassie White, Ava Bishop, and Braylee Hall.

SRTC programs visit TCCHS SRTC TCCHS

A recent postsecondary event aimed to show local high school students that they don’t have to move far away or pay high tuition prices to receive a college education.

Thomas County Central High School held a Southern Regional Technical College Programs Fair on Thursday, Feb. 15. Representatives from SRTC’s career pathways set up booths and met with select junior and senior classes.

TCCHS Senior Guidance Counselor Tammy Shealey said the partnership between TCCHS and SRTC enables high school students to discover career paths available within their community.

“Our students are able to obtain the training they need at the postsecondary level without having to leave Thomasville,” she said. “I was thrilled to be able to have 16 programs from SRTC come to the school to speak with our students and showcase various careers that are relevant to our community.”

SRTC cosmetology student Anna Cooper embodies success in this process. She will graduate this year and has an apprenticeship at a local style bar, where she plans to work after graduation.

“We want to show people they have a great school right down the road,” Cooper said. “You don’t have to go to a fancy school and spend buckets of money; you can go down the road and get just as good of an education.”

Some other programs at the fair included early childhood education, welding, business and medical assisting.

Garrison-Pilcher Awards Character Kids Character Kids

Thomas County Garrison-Pilcher Elementary School recognizes first and second graders for outstanding character attributes on a monthly basis.  Homeroom teachers selected one child per class that exemplified the character word for January:  honesty.  These January Character Kids are pictured with Principal Robin Binion and represent what “honesty” looks like each and every day:  (first row) Braylen Mitchell, Pedro Perez Rivera, Everly Greene, Joseph Edwards, Alex Asbell, Zy Crump, Zailey McLeod; (second row) Hanah River Daniels, Eleck Edenfield, Zyon Holton, Ruben McGowan, Makenna Ballard, Austin Hester, Gaspar Escobar, Katherine McMullen, Luke Bozeman, Carson Revels, Pierce Shaver; (third row) Sadie Christie, Timothy Brown, Braelynn Cross, Kaiden Futch, Olivia Mills, Penelope Ray, Zoey Ivey, Maya Costley, Heaven Moriss, Quardell Johnson, Fallon Steinberg, and Raelyn Drew.   Not pictured:  Kyle Branham, Mikayla Carter, Serenity Clayton, Braelyn Dasher, Kamden Gartner, Jack Harrison, Emmalie Martinez, Anthony Lopez Ramirez, and Jai’liyah Rogers.

Stewart and Hopper to lead Thomas County Board of Education Dan Stewart

The Thomas County Board of Education held its first meeting of the new calendar year Tuesday, January 16. After the invocation, outgoing chair Leah Smith declared the positions of chair and vice chair vacant and asked for nominations.

Board member Mark NeSmith made a motion that Dan Stewart be elected chair and that Ed Hopper be elected vice chair. Chris Hayes seconded NeSmith’s motion.  Smith called for any additional nominations. There were no additional nominations, so Stewart and Hopper were elected to their respective roles with no dissenting votes.

Stewart serves District 6, and he and his wife, Sheri, reside on a family farm outside of Ochlocknee. Stewart retired as building maintenance supervisor at the Southwestern State campus where he worked for 30 years. Stewart is a family partner in a cattle/farming operation.

Stewart said, “I am humbled and honored to serve as chair alongside an incredibly cohesive group of board members. I feel my position as chair is dignified by the fact that we have the best school system that I could ask for. I look forward to working closely with Mr. Hopper, the rest of the board members, and Dr. Lisa Williams for a successful year.”

Hopper, who serves District 7, is self-employed. Hopper is a product of Thomas County Schools, and is excited to serve on the board for his alma mater. He is married to Lauren Hopper who teaches at Garrison-Pilcher Elementary School.

“I am honored to serve on the Thomas County Board of Education as the vice chair,” Hopper said. “It is an exciting time to be a Yellow Jacket! Whether in the classroom or on our athletic fields, we have great things happening in Thomas County, and I am proud to be a part of it.”