South Carolina Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school serving students in grades K-12 across South Carolina, celebrated nearly 620 graduating seniors during the school’s annual high school graduation ceremony. Hundreds of family members, friends, teachers and administrators gathered in Columbia for the ceremony on Friday. Valedictorian Catherine Drosieko and salutatorian Benjamin Owens served as student speakers.

The class of 2019 spans the state, with graduates residing in cities and towns including Florence, Anderson, Aiken and Fort Mill. The 67% of graduates who plan to attend two or four year colleges or universities are headed to schools including Carnegie Mellon University, U.S. Naval Academy, American Musical & Dramatic Academy, Full Sail University and Savannah College of Art & Design.

Among the graduates was Landon Graber, a stellar student who came to South Carolina Connections Academy seeking a flexible school schedule and dedicated teaching staff so he could have time to pursue his outside-the-classroom activities, such as a part-time job and serving his church. Graber is attending Anderson University in the fall to study graphic design on a full-ride academic scholarship.

Another standout senior is Samantha Specht, who will attend Clemson University School of Nursing with the hope of one day becoming a nurse. Specht enjoyed the flexibility of the online program because it enabled her to volunteer with the Lexington Medical Center and explore various health care fields while attending school.

“South Carolina Connections Academy gave me a wonderful academic experience and played a large role in my academic success,” said senior student, Samantha Specht. “Graduation symbolizes a new, exciting chapter of my life, and reminds me of the tremendous guidance and support my teachers provided me to achieve personal success.”

“This year’s graduates have impressed me with their depth of knowledge and passions,” said Amanda Ebel, executive director at South Carolina Connections Academy. “We’re extremely excited to see what the future holds for these talented and motivated seniors, and are grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to be a part of their education.”

South Carolina Connections Academy currently serves approximately 4,750 students in grades K-12 across South Carolina. The school’s students work with certified teachers who are specially trained to engage students in online learning using the school’s award-winning proven curriculum.

South Carolina Connections Academy juniors and seniors benefit from the school’s flexibility, which allows them time to research colleges, take on a part-time job or pursue extracurricular activities. Students also take advantage of Kansas Connections Academy’s diverse course catalogue, including Career Technical Education (CTE) elective offerings.

For more information about South Carolina Connections Academy, visit

Local graduates from Berkeley and Charleston counties include:

  • Daniel Martin
  • Mason DuFour
  • Joseph Pigg
  • Reilly Wilson
  • William Saar
  • Jersie Messervy
  • Arleana Millbrook
  • Rebekah Walters
  • Tyler Quigley
  • Harley Urick
  • Chester Klutts
  • Layla James
  • Zaaliyah Robinson
  • Emily Elliott
  • Kylie Renshaw
  • Nicole Harris
  • Tyler Sisler
  • Miranda Habbick
  • Shelby Corliss
  • Taylor Warren
  • Ireland Smith
  • Olivia Weeks
  • Nick Cardinal
  • Isabella Kocsis
  • Hannah Truman
  • Ana Lei Kalawe-Edwards
  • Lindsey Crump
  • Shelby McConnell
  • Hubert Murray
  • MacKenneth Rivers
  • Jonas Millican
  • Nicholas Kaye
  • Mary Hayes
  • Erica Garcia
  • Alexis Price
  • Martha Wyzanowski
  • Treuthe Davis
  • Thomas Jahn
  • Monique Washington