Wilson Hall students often say that a big part of their educational experience takes place outside the classroom, and there is a good bit of truth in that statement. Our students learn to enjoy a healthy balance between work and play, and Wilson Hall provides the opportunity for students to enjoy themselves with their friends and faculty through an extraordinary array of student activities. It is easy to see why students who enjoy coming to school do so much better academically.
From pep rallies like the Dodge Ball Tournament and The Baron Games to events such as the Homecoming Parade and Prom, students have a wide variety of activities to keep them busy. School-wide events such as the Fall Festival and May Day encourage the participation of not only students, but also the participation of parents. Art shows, theater productions and music programs for students of all ages not only entertain, but help create well-rounded young people.
Because of the small size of the student body, students are able to become active in several organizations. No matter how diverse a student’s interests and talents are, each person can usually find a group of students and faculty to share them. The Instrumental Ensemble, Lego Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes are just a few of the 45 clubs and organizations Wilson Hall offers.
Through these activities, students learn not only to respect, motivate, and lead their fellow Barons, but they also discover their own abilities and test their own values.
For a pep rally in January, the varsity cheerleading squad sponsored the Student-Faculty Basketball Game which the faculty won 33-12. Held in the Nash Student Center, the game consisted of four, five-minute quarters that alternated between genders. Any member of the faculty, staff, or coaching staff was eligible to play, and high school students who are not currently on a Wilson Hall basketball team could participate. Members of the varsity basketball teams served as officials and coaches. Mr. George Carruth and Mrs. Emma Ayres organized the faculty team and Kyndal Waynick ‘20, cheer captain, organized the student players. Mrs. Frances James and Mrs. Ashley Lareau are the advisors for the varsity cheerleading squad.
Nearly 200 students attended the 26th annual Winter Chill, a semi-formal dance for grades 9-12 sponsored by the Student Council. The dance was held at The O’Donnell House, a historic mansion built in 1840 and located in downtown Sumter. A professional DJ from Partytime Entertainment in Columbia provided the music and the heavy hors d’oeuvres were served by Christy & Co. Catery. Mr. Sean Hoskins and Mrs. Cheryl Landstrom are the advisors for the High School Student Council.
With glow in the dark and neon decorations provided by 8th Grade Class Officers, the Nash Student Center was the scene for the annual Middle School Winter Dance. Over 150 students in grades 6-8 attended the event sponsored by the Student Council. A professional DJ from Partytime Entertainment in Columbia provided the music and 7th Grade Class Officers served refreshments. Ms. Heather Eldridge is the advisor for the Middle School Student Council.
As part of the curriculum in their U.S. History class, the fourth grade students participated in the annual Wilson Hall Colonial Day which was held at the Carolina Backcountry Homestead at the Sumter County Museum on November 9. This recreated homestead, which hosts living history events, includes a log cabin, settler’s house, a smokehouse, barn, commissary (storehouse), loomhouse, outhouse, blacksmith shop, and gardens. Colonial Day offers a hands-on learning experience about daily life during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Dressed in period costume, the students participated in a wide variety of activities including colonial cooking and a militia drill. Also dressed in period costume, parent volunteers and teachers assisted the museum’s staff and volunteers with the different activities throughout the day. For Patriot Night, an evening reception held at the home of Michael and Katie Naylor, students, faculty and parents also dressed in period costume. The fourth grade teachers are Mrs. Tammy Amick, Mrs. Laura Brogdon and Mrs. Louise Dixon.
Approximately 900 people attended the annual Fall Festival held in the Nash Student Center on October 30. Sponsored by the PTO, the event featured 20 game booths, inflatable bouncy house and rock climb/slide, costume and pumpkin decorating contests, concessions, a bake sale, and a haunted house. Mrs. Michelle Cipov served as the chair and Mrs. Amy Wilson as the co-chair of the event.
Senior Mary Catherine Matthews was crowned the 48th Homecoming Queen during half time of the varsity football game on October 18. The senior class nominated seven girls from the class to be on the Homecoming Court, and students in grades nine-12 voted for the queen. In addition to Mary Catherine, the following seniors were elected to the court: Carly Allred, Ava Claus, Elise Osteen, Emily Reynolds, Madi Sliwonik and Isabelle Weston.
A variety of activities took place to celebrate Homecoming. Spirit Week found students and faculty members dressing up to the following themes: athletic jerseys, cowboys v. aliens, fashion disaster, group costume, and USA.
Students arrived to campus the morning of the 18th to find the entire high school building decorated by the varsity cheerleading squad to the theme of “Wilson Hall of Fame.” With the sports theme, the inside of the building had intricately painted banners and decorations that covered the floor, walls and ceiling. Students of all ages enjoyed the festive atmosphere throughout the day.
The Student Council sponsored the 46th annual Homecoming Parade which traveled the four-mile route through the nearby neighborhood on the afternoon of the 18th. Each class, 6th-12th, sponsored a float decorated to the following themes: Mario Kart, Las Vegas, Duck Dynasty, Area 51, Safari, Knights, and Disco. The varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders and football players rode in trucks and floats, and girls on the Homecoming Court rode in convertibles. Every middle and high school student rode in the parade.
Following the football game, the Student Council sponsored a Homecoming Rave for high school students. The casual dance, which had a neon theme, was held in the multipurpose room and had over 100 students in attendance.
Wilson Hall students, faculty and parents met before school started the morning of September 25 to participate in the annual See You at the Pole event which is part of the Global Week of Student Prayer. Held the fourth Wednesday of each September, this international event encourages Christian students to gather around the flagpole for prayer and scripture reading before the start of the school day. Wilson Hall’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, advised by Mrs. Molly Matthews and led by president Mary Catherine Matthews ‘20, sponsored the campus event.
To celebrate the military presence in our community, Wilson Hall sponsored a Military Appreciation Night for the varsity football game on October 4. The school has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Shaw Air Force Base, home to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, 20th Fighter Wing and Ninth Air Force, as well as the Third Army/U.S. Army Central Command. Students from military families comprise 18% of the student body.
Twenty American flags, a Prisoner of War flag, and four South Carolina flags, loaned to the school by the family of the late Mayor Bubba McElveen and the Sumter County Museum, were flown throughout Spencer Field. The varsity cheerleaders created a red, white and blue run-through banner for the team that read “Here Come Our Heroes” and distributed red, white and blue balloons to the student fans, and for the night’s spirit theme students dressed in patriotic garb.
Alex Blum ‘20, whose father, Mr. Gus Blum, is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, offered the invocation before the game. Chief John F. Kennedy, who retired from the Air Force after 24 years of service, sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” The Shaw Air Force Base Honor Guard presented the colors, and conducting the coin toss was Lt. Colonel Steve Collins of the U.S. Army. Mrs. Elizabeth Hyatt, school counselor, coordinated the event.