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Seven Alumni Featured in New Anthology of Young SC Writers

News Type:  All School Alumni Date:  Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Seven Heathwood alumni are among the 40 young writers from across the state featured in the South Carolina Honors College's new anthology Writing South Carolina: Selections from the 5th Annual High School Writing Contest.

The Highlanders whose work was published in the anthology are Christina Altman, Genevieve Altman, Marie Charlotte Dememtriades, Justice Hill, Melina Manos, Athraya Murali, and Alyce Petit, all members of the Class of 2018.

All the essays in the anthology address the question "How can we make South Carolina better?"

“We think these students are on the front lines of what happens in our state, and we are pleased to publish their insightful work,” said Steven Lynn, founder of the contest and dean of the SCHC, a college within the University of South Carolina. “What they experience at home, school, and in their communities has been translated into gripping material for us to read. These writers are South Carolina’s future leaders, and I hope people will listen to what they have to say.” 

Want to Know What Life at Heathwood is Like This Year? Here's a Glimpse.

News Type:  All School Alumni Date:  Friday, September 11, 2020

This year looks different at Heathwood in some notable ways. But in many ways it's also felt similar to every other year at Heathwood: students who are enthusiastic about learning and educators who are passionate about teaching coming together for substantive and meaningful experiences both in the classroom and beyond.

Since pandemic safety guidelines prevent us from opening our campus to visitors as fully as we normally would, we created this video to give both current and prospective families a glimpse of what our students' experience is like this year. To watch, just click on the image below.


Dedication of Jake Clarkson Memorial Patio Honors the Life of a Remarkable Student

News Type:  All School Alumni Date:  Tuesday, August 25, 2020

On the first anniversary of his passing, we honored a Highlander who was taken from us much too soon with the dedication of the Jake Clarkson Memorial Patio on August 25, 2020. While the Heathwood community continues to mourn Jake's loss, we are also grateful to be able to celebrate his life and honor his memory through the creation of a beautiful new outdoor space for our students.

Located next to the Robinson Center for Math and Science, the Jake Clarkson Memorial Patio was made possible by generous donations from many who loved Jake, and by tremendous gifts of time and talent from his family. At a dedication ceremony on the morning of August 25, 2020, Head of School Chris Hinchey, Head of Upper School George Scouten, Student Body president AJ Kuse, and Jake's brother, Lane Clarkson, '19 all shared memories of Jake and of the impact he had on the Heathwood community. While dozens of Jake's family members, classmates, teachers, and friends looked on, the Clarkson family cut the ribbon officially opening the patio so that it can be enjoyed by all the Heathwood students who remember Jake's friendly spirit, joy for life, and love of the outdoors.

The Clarkson family, Chip, Glenda, Lane, and Jake, joined the Heathwood community in 2006, when Lane became a kindergartener. Jake followed in 2008. He was a gifted athlete who played JV football, JV and varsity soccer, varsity wrestling, and sporting clays. He was, in the words of Heathwood history teacher Gigi Dawson, "a silent leader among his peers. He didn't have to be the center of attention but he was the glue who held everyone together. He loved his friends and he loved Heathwood. He was a great Highlander."

Congratulations, Class of 2020 Graduates!

News Type:  All School Alumni Date:  Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On June 20, Heathwood held its 43rd Commencement ceremony on the lawn in front of the Bell Tower and welcomed 54 members of the Class of 2020 to the ranks of its alumni.

This is the first year Commencement was held on campus instead of at Trinity Cathedral, where pandemic-related safety guidelines precluded graduates and their families from gathering. The outdoor ceremony, with family groups seated at least six feet apart from each other, was memorialized in a painting by Heathwood parent Jamie Peterson, '24, '26. 

In his remarks to the graduates, Head of School Chris Hinchey noted that because of the pandemic, "This was also not the senior spring you wanted nor the senior spring you deserved," but added, "However, your time here will not be defined by COVID and this 3 month hiatus, but rather by the enormous impact you’ve had on Heathwood and on us and more importantly by your accomplishments and experiences in the classrooms, on the stage, on the fields and courts, and on our campus."

Class speaker Caroline Quan also acknowledged the pandemic's impact on the graduates' senior year but reminded her classmates, "I can’t tell you how things will work out moving forward, but I do know that despite all of this we can still do something. We can decide how this year will be remembered by talking, by speaking up. You see, we’re not social distancing, we’re physically distancing. Six feet apart doesn’t hinder your voice. So ask yourself, what can we say, and what can we do to make the change that we want to see? ... How do we make everything that has happened this year, all the good, all the bad, all the tears and anger and sorrow and laughter and smiles and waves goodbye, how do we take these moments and make them more than just stories? ... Maybe we as the Class of 2020 will not be leaving legacies of our own individual lives, but just one of collective hope and change. One in which we cheer each other on, just as we always have. And maybe, that is exactly how it should be."

Commencement speaker Joan Gabel, P '20, the President of the University of Minnesota, likewise spoke to both the challenges and the opportunities facing students who are graduating at this particular moment: 

"I came here today from the Twin Cities, where I now serve as the President of the University of Minnesota. Over recent weeks, our community up there has been through a lot. Tear gas clouds fill the air…and I’ve been yelled at by protesters on my front lawn. 

"Yet, above all of this, I’ve also experienced the power of the human spirit – from peaceful protests to those volunteering to clean up the next day and support each other – much like Fred Rogers’ (Mr. Rogers) advice, when the news is bad to “look for the helpers.”

"Graduates, I would say to you, be that person – be that helper. 

"Even a pandemic can’t break the way we are all intertwined and how much we need each other. As Dr. Martin Luther King once noted, 'Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.'

"Yes, you’ve been through a lot. But you have also risen to the task with character, strength, and resiliency. You’ve navigated these challenges, finished your projects, made your presentations, and earned the diploma you have worked so hard to attain, while rising up during a time of great personal significance to put the health, safety, and well-being of others above all else."

As they head off to college as far away as California (where four of them will attend universities ranging from Cal Tech to UC Berkeley) or as close to home as the University of South Carolina (where four will enroll in the Honors College), we wish all of our 2020 graduates well and look forward to hearing about their future endeavors.

W. D. Morris, '92, P '22, '26 is 2020 Weston Award Honoree

News Type:  All School Alumni Date:  Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Heathwood alumnus and parent W.D. Morris, Jr. is this year's recipient of the Anne Thornhill Weston Alumni Award.

Named in honor of Anne Weston (Heathwood parent 2003 & 2007), long time science teacher and Upper School Head and Assistant Headmaster from 1978-2013, the Weston Award is given annually to a Heathwood Hall graduate who has followed in the footsteps of Anne Weston and distinguished him or herself in the area of community service and shared in Anne’s belief in the dignity of all people and in the mission of Episcopal schools to educate and serve with faith, hope, and love.

W.D., a 1992 Heathwood graduate whose sons William ('22) and Henry ('26) currently attend the school, exemplifies the spirit of the Weston Award through his work as a youth sports coach, his service to Heathwood, and his commitment to serving the greater community. He is a church league basketball coach, a youth baseball coach--and the 2018 winner of PBL's Medlin/Scurry Award for outstanding coaching--and a PBL board member. He is Treasurer of the Highlander Club, a Sunday School Teacher at Eastminster Presbyterian Churh, and a longtime meber of the Coastal Conservation Association State Board, who in 2013 earned the CCA South Carolina Volunteer of the Year Award given in recognition of his outstanding commitment to CCA and his tireless dedication to the advancement of the principles and mission of the association. 

"As a parent volunteer, WD is omnipresent and always willing to throw an oar in the water," said Heathwood Head of School Chris Hinchey. "There is not a friendlier, more selfless, gracious, and humble graduate than WD Morris. He is a gentlemen, a friend, and a Highlander committed to a life of service."


Heathwood Alumni Launch Website to Connect Health Workers with Masks

News Type:  All School Alumni Date:  Monday, April 20, 2020

Heathwood alumni Sanford and Townsend Zeigler have combined their talents and expertise to launch a website,, that serves as a nationwide resource connecting healthcare providers who need personal protective equipment (PPE) with those who are able to provide it.

The website came about after Sanford Zeigler, a heart surgeon who's medical director of the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, posted on social media about the needs of the medical community. The response was a flood of donations, and Sanford's brother Townsend, who works in marketing in Nashville, saw an opportunity to get the word out even further by creating a website.

On the site are lists of needed supplies and locations where they can be dropped off, as well as a form healthcare providers can fill out to request PPE. (And for those in the Midlands who may have PPE available for donation, Lexington Medical Center is one of their drop-off sites.)

We're proud that these alumni are making such a difference in this time of critical need.



"Every Challenge Teaches You Something New About Yourself": An Interview With New Heathwood Basketball Coach Brionna Dickerson Zimmerman

News Type:  All School Alumni Date:  Thursday, April 16, 2020

Heathwood alumna Brionna Dickerson Zimmerman, '05, returns to the Athletic Center this year as Head Women's Basketball Coach after a standout career at the University of South Carolina and several years of coaching AAU ball. In addition to being Heathwood's all-time points leader during her years as a Highlander, Brionna is already a familiar face on campus thanks to her current role as Heathwood's Events Coordinator and Development Associate.

We asked Brionna to share her coaching philosophy, her proudest moment as a player, and what it was like to play at Carolina for current National Coach of the Year Dawn Staley. Here she also explains why she's currently glued to her TV whenever The Voice is on, and why you may sometimes here her refered to on campus as "Coach Mom."


--As a former Heathwood player, what excited you most about coming back to the program as a coach? 

It's exciting for me to be able to come back where it all started. Not only that, but I'm most excited about the chance for my son to see me coach. My family is a basketball family, obviously with a son named after Kobe Bryant and daughters named after Michael Jordan and Skylar Diggins, so the game has always been in my blood. I am grateful for him to see me in my element as a coach. He's even asked if he should call me Coach Mom :)


--What's your favorite thing about coaching? 

My favorite thing about coaching is being able to inspire young people. Being an athlete has a different meaning for everyone who plays a sport, and my goal is always to inspire my team to step outside of their comfort zone and unlock the person inside of them that they didn't know was there. Basketball brings out so many wonderful characteristics in a person...character, drive, competitiveness... and these are all things that you can't teach. It lies in all of us, it just takes the right inspiration to make it come out.


--How would you describe your coaching philosophy? 

My coaching philosophy is based on three key areas that can lead to success...commitment, communication and coachability. These three things will help me build an "All In" mentally. A big part of that is being relatable to my team and having the perspective of someone who has been in their shoes as a former Heathwood basketball player. At the end of the season, I want them all to be able to look back and see growth in themselves as an athlete and as a person.


--You played in college for this year's national Coach of the Year, Dawn Staley. What have you learned from her that you'll carry into your role at Heathwood? 

Coach Staley has been one of my role models since watching her play for the Charlotte Sting in the WNBA. Since the day she stepped on campus her advice to me has always been to never back down and to never shy away from a challenge. She said things may not always go in your favor but every challenge teaches you something new about yourself. That is something that I have always kept with me into adulthood, motherhood, and coaching. 


--What was your proudest moment as a Heathwood player? 

My proudest moment as a player was getting to make the first shot in the Athletic Center when it opened. It was completed my Senior year, and I was injured in an away scrimmage right before our first home game. It was definitely an emotional experience. Now I get a chance to coach in a building that I didn't actually get to play in so things have seemed to come full circle.


--What have you enjoyed most about your role as Heathwood's Event Coordinator and Development Associate? 

I have enjoyed getting an opportunity to work with all the different constituencies at Heathwood, including alumni, parents and grandparents. My role allows me to help coordinate events for them by learning what they love to do and love about Heathwood and incorporating that knowledge into making our events more successful. I'd have to say that my favorite event by far is the auction, and although we weren't able to physically gather this year, our community still made our fundraising efforts a great success!


--What advice do you have for students who want to play basketball for Heathwood next year but are limited in what training they can do right now because of social distancing? 

Although being in the gym is out of our control right now, there are still ways to prepare your body and mind for next season. Ball handling, passing and agility drills don't require having a basketball goal at home and this is a great time to work on maintaining your strengths and improving your weaknesses.


--What's one thing about you that we might be surprised to know? 

I had my cousin sing at my wedding because he is an amazing vocalist. He is currently on NBC's The Voice and has made it 3 rounds already. His name is Camm Wess, and he was on Team John Legend. It has been a really cool experience supporting him and voting on Monday nights to help him win the competition!

You can read more about Coach Zimmerman and her new role in Heathwood Athletics here.


Heathwood Students Begin Remote Learning in Response to Covid-19 Pandemic

News Type:  All School Date:  Wednesday, March 25, 2020

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of Heathwood’s campus on March 16, faculty and students at all grade levels transitioned into remote learning protocols that featured both synchronous (live and interactive) and asynchronous experiences. While the exact nature of those experiences varies considerably from one grade level to another, students are continuing to cover much of the same material they would have learned in their traditional classrooms, largely thanks to exceptional work on the part of Heathwood’s tech team and a can-do spirit on the part of faculty and students.

Preparations for remote learning began weeks before the coronavirus hit South Carolina, as it became evident that schools in other nations were having to close in response to the virus and Heathwood might have to do the same. Division heads met with faculty to map out exactly what remote learning might look like, the tech team held training sessions on Google Meet and other options that facilitate virtual classrooms, and each division surveyed families to learn more about their expectations, challenges, and capabilities in a remote learning situation.

By the time Heathwood’s Leadership Team determined, on March 15, that it was no longer feasible to keep the campus open for the foreseeable future, detailed plans were thus in place for remote learning experiences in each division. Students in younger grades, for example, were given assignments to complete at home that were very similar to what they’d be doing at school, while older students continued to attend classes virtually, on a set schedule.

Initially scheduled for March 16-April 3, remote learning has now been extended to May 1 in response to SC Governor Henry McMaster's order that all public schools in teh state remain closed until April 30.

While the campus closure was done with a heavy heart, Head of School Chris Hinchey notes that the way students, teachers, and families have risen to the challenge says great things about the Heathwood community: 

“Developing our Remote Learning program was a herculean effort, and our faculty and division administrators deserve our gratitude and appreciation.  Transitioning from our traditional face-to-face learning program into a remote learning program is challenging, but to do it in one week - under the pressure of a growing pandemic while delivering a full day of classes and extra-curriculars – is monumental.  Additionally, our families have been so supportive and flexible and once again the Heathwood community has risen to the challenge.

“Based on the strong and trusting relationships with our students and parents and the professionalism of our educators,” Mr. Hinchey added, “we are getting great feedback and making substantive and positive changes.”

To learn more about Heathwood’s remote learning experience, visit the Covid-19 page on our website, where there are links to letters from each division head that provide extensive details on the process for that division.

Lower School LEAP Week: Learning, Engagement, Action, Possibilities

News Type:  All School Date:  Friday, March 6, 2020

From gardening to tennis to exploring Latin America and Spain, from Comic Book Creations to Colonial and Native American Activities to Healthy Minds and Healthy Hearts, the Lower School's LEAP Week short classes give students unique opportunities to step out of the traditional classroom and explore specific interests or discover new passions.

For the Week of March 2-6, all Lower School students spent the afternoon taking two hour-long classes of their choice. In Kid Authors, students explored the elements of storytelling, then wrote and illustrated their own books. Popular Mechanics focused on bridge-building, while Beautiful Butterflies allowed students to learn all about the different types of butterflies than can be seen in the Midlands.Classes like volleyball, baseball, and Ultimate P.E. created extra opportunities for students to get physical, while classes in sign language, cheerleading, and ballet allowed participants to develop new skills or enhance existing ones. In all, some LEAP Week courses were offered this year.

LEAP (Learning, Engagement, Action, Possibilities) Week is an annual program that's designed to expand learning opportunities for students in grades K-4 beyond the traditional classroom, just as Winterim does for Upper School students during the same week.


See the full gallery of LEAP Week photos here.

Innovation with Impact: U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Visits Heathwood to Explore Signature Programs

News Type:  All School Date:  Thursday, February 13, 2020

Heathwood was honored to host U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mick Zais on February 12 as he toured the school to learn about innovative Heathwood programs and their impacts on students.

Dr. Zais, a retired Army General who has also served as President of Newberry College and S.C. Superintendent of Education, came to Heathwood in support of the Department of Education’s goal of diversifying K-12 educational offerings to better meet the diverse needs of American students. To that end, he heard from Heathwood students, teachers, and parents about their experiences with signature Heathwood programs such as Mindful in the Hall, Senior Exhibition, and Winterim.

“I used to get really stressed before quizzes, tests, and sporting events,” seventh grader Robert Sims Tighe told Zais. “But the deep breathing and other things I’ve learned through the Mindfulness program have helped me be a lot more calm and focused.”

That, said Middle School Head Suzanne Nagy, is one of the main goals of the Mindful in the Hall program, which was developed in response to growing levels of anxiety among students who are grappling with the challenges of social media and other facets of their digital lives on top of the perpetual stressors of adolescence. “We’re working with kids in a variety of ways to help them calm their nervous systems so they can be more successful in school and in their extracurriculars,” Mrs. Nagy said. “And so far we’re seeing great results.”

Likewise, Upper School Head George Scouten and Upper School Dean of Students and 12th grade English Teacher Elise Hagstette explained how Heathwood’s longstanding Senior Exhibition program equips students for success in college-level coursework and beyond. Because the program requires all Heathwood seniors to write and present a thesis-type piece of original research, they learn skills that many students are lacking when they arrive in college: “They’re putting together an advisory committee, including taking the initiative to reach out to an outside expert,” Dr. Scouten said. “They’re learning how to manage schedules, meet a series of deadlines, put together a prospectus, research, write, and present a lengthy paper – all skills that our graduates tell us over and over prepared them very well for college and their careers.”

Dr. Zais concurred, citing a study that found effective written and oral communication skills are increasingly important as a military officer’s career progresses. Having visited almost 300 schools during his tenure with the Department of Education, he also noted that he’s learned that really good schools know how to encourage parents to be involved in their children’s educations, something the parents in attendance said they appreciated about Heathwood.

Apart from the value of signature programs that create significant opportunities for personal and intellectual growth, the theme that emerged most clearly from the session was the importance of relationships in creating a strong learning environment. Students and teachers alike cited small classes and a school culture of respect for the value of all as making a big difference in the academic experience at Heathwood. For example, said Upper School English Teacher Sally Plowden, because her daughters felt respected by their teachers when they were Heathwood students, they were very comfortable connecting with professors when they got to college in a way that many students are not. “It was like they just took Heathwood with them when they went to college,” she said. “And that made them very successful in the college classroom.”

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