Bus Hero is honored; Stadium is updated

Caption: Saves a child from choking. Judy Barnett, center, with her husband, Caury, receives a standing ovation last Monday from, background l-r, District 56 board members Keith Richardson, Tammy Stewart and Patsy Sadler. She received the Spirit of 56 Award for quick action in performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a student on her bus who was choking. - Photo by Vic MacDonald


Bus hero is awarded top D56 recognition


Drive about 55 miles a day, every day five days a week, for the nine months of a school year, and something eventful is bound to happen.

Most of the time it might be occasional student rowdiness or a fleet-footed deer. Some times, however, it’s hero time.

“You are the hero this time,” District 56 Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields said to Judy Barnett as she received a hero’s award.

O’Shields said Barnett saved the life of a child on her bus when Barnett saw the child was choking on a piece of a sucker. Trusting her training, she performed the Heimlich Maneuver - dislodging the airway-restricting candy.

The middle school child couldn’t talk, and already was turning a purple color in the face. 

“On behalf of a very grateful District we cannot say enough about the Spirit of 56 Award to Mrs. Barnette,” the superintendent said. “You are the hero this time for saving a child in a time of need.”

O’Shields said Judy’s husband, Caury, is considered a hero by many in the district for his willingness to drive students and teachers - safely - to and from competitions. Caury Barnett is the District 56 Assistant Transportation Director.

The Barnett’s daughter sounded the first alarm about her fellow student being in trouble. She ran up the bus aisle saying, “mama, he’s choking on a sucker.”

Judy Barnett is a trained, certified nursing assistant, and she has been driving a bus for nine years.

Dr. David Pitts, assistant superintendent for operations, said Judy’s bus route runs 55 miles each day that school is in session. He said, “I have driven it - it is very challenging.”


Wilder Stadium prospect: 95% sure

football will be played there in August


They won’t build the giant field house that a private group wanted a couple years back, but District 56 is going to enhance the fans’ experience at Wilder Stadium, the venerable home of Red Devil football and soccer.

And, the work should be sufficiently enough complete by late August to allow the Clinton-Laurens varsity football rivalry game to be played on Richardson Field.

Final go-ahead is expected from state inspectors June 4, and construction is set to begin as soon as that final OK hits District 56. The district’s school year culminating event is June 1, Clinton High School graduation.

“Will we play football in Wilder Stadium in August? I am 95 percent confident that we will,” Assistant Superintendent for Operations Dr. David Pitts told the school board last Monday evening. The renovations to Wilder Stadium will cost the district $1.7 million.

The money is coming from existing surplus funds, and keeping the bonds that built Clinton High School on the District 56 tax books a little longer. There is no property tax increase money going toward Wilder Stadium. A private fund-raising effort for much more expansive renovations and additions has been suspended.

Pitts said a contingency plan is being developed in case the Office of School Facilities, SC Department of Education, does not give the renovation a final certificate of completion. If fans attend the Clinton-Laurens football game in Wilder Stadium, they will see evidence of construction, but the work will be substantially completed.

The district is building a new concession stand/restrooms, along with a handicapped accessible viewing area at the stadium. It will be along the north wall, on a currently in place hillside. There will still be a hillside, so kids can play football while the football game is going on. Home stands concession/restrooms will be upgraded.

Key players in the stadium work - Ben Thompson of AAG Architects and William Trammell of Triangle Construction - participated with Pitts in his presentation to the board.

A schematic of the construction (PDF) is on the school district’s website. They have been working on this project since the end of February, with the OSF receiving the overall plan and the construction plan. A soil study was completed last week, and bids for work in phases were deadlined for the end of May. After that, the district will have a final construction price.

In other business, the board approved resolutions of appreciation for 21 retirees. They will be recognized at a May 7 dinner at Clinton High School. The board approved one candidate for an induction contract, and five candidates for continuing contracts following an executive session.

Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields updated the board on the April 20 stakeholders breakfast. Board Chairman Jim Barton and member Keith Richardson represented the board at this event, attended by 39 community members (details were in The Chronicle, April 25).

Barton said, “Really, we are all stakeholders, if we pay taxes or are the beneficiary of someone educated in our school system. We, frankly, don’t get enough intelligent, meaningful input from the community.”

District 56 was the second district in the state, and first in the Upstate to have its schools inspected on a first responders tour, the board was told. Laurens County first responders have toured District 55 and Ware Shoals schools, and Greenville Health System is interested in scheduling first responder tours, the board was told.

Pitts gave the board an interim update within District 56’s 5-year strategic plan (2016-2021), saying the schools are focusing on student achievement, teacher quality and technology. 

Electronic and paper copies of each school’s update on their strategic plans also are available to the board, Pitts said. O’Shields said, “We are trying to hone down on students with personal devices (for classwork), not just phones.” 


KEY dates coming up in District 56 are: May 7, retirees’ dinner; May 10-13 and 17-20, “The Addams Family” play at CHS; May 22, high school winter-spring athletic awards, CHS gym; May 27, board meeting, 7:30 p.m., MS Bailey Child Development Center; May 29, high school academic banquet; May 31, high school seniors cookout; June 1, CHS graduation (a ticketed event); June 25, board meeting, 7:30 p.m., CHS auditorium.

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