Student Spotlight

Excelling in and out of the classroom

Independent schools provide smaller class sizes and one-on-one attention from teachers, making education more personalized and accessible to students. Students in these school communities state that the bonds formed with their teachers and fellow students have helped them excel both in and out of the classroom. Here, we profile a student from each participating school, chosen by each school to represent its student body.


​Yumi Naurke 

Ben Lippen School

Yumi Naurke, a senior, has attended Ben Lippen School since kindergarten. Due to the investment of Ben Lippen’s faculty and staff, Yumi says that she feels equipped to face challenges not only in the classroom, but also in the real world. On top of the rigorous academic curriculum, she has gained invaluable skills and experience as a varsity athlete, sophomore class president and National Honor Society officer. She is one of Ben Lippen’s three National Merit Semifinalists this year and has received academic and athletic honors including the English Collaboration Award, Junior Bible Scholar Award and the cheer squad’s Ben Lippen Legacy Award.

Reflecting on the past 13 years, she calls her experience “rich” and “full,” thanks in part to Ben Lippen’s tradition of fostering “unity through diversity.” The daughter of houseparents in Ben Lippen’s boarding program, Yumi has grown up sharing a home and a school with teenagers from around the world. She says the boarding program accommodates many international students who each contribute unique perspectives to the Ben Lippen culture. Having spent 13 years being shaped by the Ben Lippen culture, Yumi feels prepared for college where she will pursue a degree in either English or psychology.


​McCarley Maddock

Cardinal Newman School

Senior McCarley Maddock redefines excellence at Cardinal Newman School. She is a success in the classroom, on the court and in the community. McCarley was named a National Merit Semifinalist, nominated for the National Youth Conference in Medicine for three consecutive years and awarded the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence. She will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall. 

McCarley has been a member of the varsity tennis team since the ninth grade and was named a SCISA All-Region varsity tennis player her senior year. She is also involved in a myriad of school and community activities, plus currently serves as student body president, varsity tennis team captain, a Kairos Retreat leader and co-director of the Cardinal Newman Dance Marathon (which benefits Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital). In addition, McCarley has volunteered for The Color Run, Ray Tanner Home Run, Habitat for Humanity and St. John Neumann School. “McCarley Maddock is the epitome of what we want all of our Cardinal Newman students to strive to be,” says Principal Jacqualine Kasprowski. “She is an incredibly hard worker and is dedicated to making her community a better place.”


Sarah Beth Wilson

Covenant Classical Christian School

Sarah Beth Wilson has been a student at Covenant Classical Christian School since the fifth grade. In that time, she has achieved many goals and has been awarded distinct honors — both in academics and athletics. Sarah Beth is the co-captain of both the varsity basketball and cross-country teams, is also the senior class Valedictorian and is the president of the National Honor Society. Regarding leadership, Sarah Beth is vice president of the campus’s student council, and she is a Bible study leader. She has taken the initiative to be involved in SCISA math meets and to be part of a leadership team at her church, Riverbend Community. 

Sarah Beth will graduate in May 2016 and has been recognized as a Palmetto Fellow for the state of South Carolina. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing at Anderson University. Her interest in the healthcare community blossomed this past summer when she had the opportunity to be a junior volunteer with the IICU and other areas at Palmetto Baptist Hospital. She plans to use her God-given gifts to minister to people in the healthcare community.

At Covenant, Sarah Beth has been groomed “for life, not just academics,” she expresses. “The academics are rigorous, but the critical thinking skills taught help me convert that knowledge into wisdom.” 


​Liddy Grantland

Hammond School 

You might describe Liddy Grantland as homegrown Hammond. A Skyhawk since pre-kindergarten, Liddy is a member of Cum Laude, the National Honor Society, Select Ensemble, Headmaster’s Leadership Council, Honor Council and is a varsity cheerleader. She is active in drama, participates in Youth in Government and has a big heart for community service. 

Completely at home in subjects like AP Chemistry and higher-level math courses, Liddy finds she also enjoys balancing the concrete subjects of history and government. Managing rigorous academics with a broad palette of extracurricular activities can be challenging for most, but according to Liddy, she follows her heart. “My days are busy, but everything I do is important to me and is something I love. I wouldn’t do so many things unless they made me happy.”

When it comes to following her heart, Liddy is typically led into community service. In the days following Columbia’s flood, she helped coordinate activities at Hammond for area children. While she was instrumental in helping bring the Dance Marathon, a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital, to Hammond, she soon found herself the beneficiary of her own efforts following a stay at the hospital.

As Liddy looks to the future, which includes an early acceptance to Duke University, she will leave Hammond having made her mark. Her kind spirit and keen intellect will serve her well. 


McKenna Savoca

Heathwood Hall Episcopal School

When Heathwood Hall senior McKenna Savoca was named 2015 George Sink Scholar Athlete of the Year by WACH Fox, few of her teachers or classmates were surprised. She’s been excelling both in the classroom and on the tennis court for years.

McKenna has maintained a spot on Heathwood’s honor role throughout high school along with being a stand-out athlete who was undefeated in the No. 1 spot on Heathwood’s tennis team this year and has made the all-state teams in both tennis and soccer.  “McKenna is an unbelievable young woman,” says Heathwood Head of School Chris Hinchey. “She has flawlessly balanced tennis and academics — both at a very high level — and still found the time to start a non-profit.”

That non-profit, What a Racket, was founded by McKenna and Catherine, her sister, to introduce children of all backgrounds to the game of tennis. It was Heathwood’s emphasis on community service, combined with a desire to expose more kids to a sport they love that inspired the Savoca sisters to start the program. 

Relationships have also been key to her intellectual growth, she says, and that’s one reason she’s glad to have attended Heathwood since preschool. “I’ve always loved school, so it’s great being around so many other people who value what they learn,” she says.


Josiah Washington

Montessori School of Columbia

Josiah Washington, now an alumnus, attended the Montessori School of Columbia through the sixth grade. “It was my time at the Montessori School that taught me so much about math, science and geography. Taking Latin classes at school helped me understand the roots of English words. I felt like I learned things that kids two grades ahead of me in other schools were learning,” he says. Josiah’s love of learning and his Montessori foundation did not just prepare him for life, but it also helped him to become a Jeopardy champion. 

On Aug. 1, 2013, he competed on Jeopardy! Kids Week and won $22,200. He is also the youngest person to receive a key to the City of Columbia. Josiah plans to major in engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then complete his MBA at the University of South Carolina. While he loves math and science, his ultimate career goal is to own a roller coaster company!


​Jansey Brewer

Northside Christian Academy

For senior Jansey Brewer, who has been attending Northside Christian Academy since the eighth grade, the family atmosphere of the school makes her feel at home. She says because NCA emphasizes knowing and loving God first, her growth in academics, athletics and service has been significant. “Every aspect of learning is centered on biblical truth,” says Jansey. 

According to Kathy Lord, upper school principal, “Northside is committed to upholding the highest academic standards possible and to preparing students to be fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Jansey embodies what it means to be a Crusader.”

Striving for excellence in every area of her life, she is well-respected by peers and teachers. She is a member of the National Honor Society and a recipient of the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship. She humbly leads by example, especially in her relationship with Jesus Christ.

Excelling in basketball and volleyball, Jansey was not only First Team All-Region but also represented NCA as an all-star in both sports. “Jansey is a perfect role model for a Christian student athlete,” says Athletic Director Fred Stabler. 

Because of her family and her education at NCA, Jansey feels well-prepared for her future. “I love being at Northside,” she says. “My experiences here have helped to shape and prepare me for what God has next for my life.”


Maya Flores

Sandhills School

When Maya Flores arrived at Sandhills School, she had anxiety about reading in front of her peers and lacked confidence in her academics. After being introduced to the specialized Orton-Gillingham curriculum and small class sizes at Sandhills, Maya says that she gained trust in her teachers and classmates who helped without judgment and offered constant encouragement.

Sandhills has offered Maya the opportunity to overcome learning obstacles and engage in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. This academic success has given her the confidence to be a leader both in and out of the classroom. One of Maya’s passions is organizing community service projects, and her ability to delegate and lead is far beyond her years. Maya’s enthusiasm and strong work ethic are evident with her studies, as editor in chief of the yearbook and organizing campus life events like Sprit Week, Harvest Festival, Field Day and the Peer Mentoring program. 

Maya is now excited about applying to college in the fall and knows that she would not be as confident and academically prepared without the support of her Sandhills teachers. Sandhills has provided a place for Maya to realize her strengths and achieve anything she sets her mind to. 


Elizabeth Alyn “Lizzy” Lowe

Thomas Sumter Academy 

Elizabeth Alyn “Lizzy” Lowe, a senior, came to Thomas Sumter Academy as a freshman in high school. Lizzy has a love for learning, for academic challenges, honest character and for guidance. While at TSA, Lizzy has been a part of Bible Talk, Anchor Club, art and is a teacher cadet.  She is currently being recognized as the Featured Artist of the Month, having one of her works of art on display in the school lobby. Lizzy has been inducted into the National Honor Society and has maintained a high GPA while staying busy with her extracurricular activities. 

When asked what she will take away from Thomas Sumter and what her memories of school will be, she says: “My teachers have loved me, challenged me, provided both life and academic insight and have been company for all students in the best and worst of times. I love this school; not the building, but the people. I never thought I could love a place so much and be so thankful, but I am.” After graduating in May 2016, Lizzy plans to attend the University of South Carolina to major in pre-law and aspires to later attend USC School of Law.


Kennedy Robinson 

Timmerman School

Since enrolling at Timmerman School in 4K, seventh grader Kennedy Robinson has been the model student. Throughout her academic career, she has remained on the “A” honor roll and is the president of the Junior Beta Club. She is involved as the secretary of the Student Government Association, is in advanced placement classes and is a Duke TIPS qualifier.

Kennedy does not use just her intellect for academic achievement and leadership pursuits, but also uses her athleticism to participate in volleyball and recreational softball. She not only leads her peers on the Timmerman Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team, but also competes with the South Carolina Midlands 13 National traveling volleyball team. 

Kennedy names her teachers as a key motivational factor for her many successes so far. “I am so thankful to have had such great teachers and coaches. They’ve taught me organizational skills that I will take with me to high school and college. I know that when I graduate next year, I will be completely ready for high school,” she says. 

“Kennedy is a true mentor. She is one of several gifted students involved in a peer-tutoring program at Timmerman. She has never missed a day, and I always know she will be in that room four days a week helping a younger student with a smile on her face,” says Principal Liz Jordan. 

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