Laurens County School District 55 Receives an Award for Safety Made Clear Campaign

April 17, 2023

Laurens County School District 55 (LCSD 55) received the Golden Achievement Award from the South Carolina National School Public Relations Association (SC NSPRA) for their “Laurens 55: Safety Made Clear” campaign.

The award is for projects that represent an aspect of the overall public relations program. Multiple professionals who work in public relations and communications judged entries. Criteria for judging include evidence of need, planning, execution/communication, and evaluation.
The campaign is aligned with LCSD 55 priorities: safety, communication, and family engagement. Data from in-person Listen & Learn sessions in early 2022 determined the stakeholders’ desire for proactive measures to prevent weapons from being brought into schools. With these priorities and stakeholders’ input in mind, LCSD 55 embarked on the Laurens 55: Safety Made Clear project. Its goal is to promote safety by thwarting opportunities for bringing into schools objects that threaten safety. The measure of success is 100% of students using clear backpacks, identifying safety threat items, and confiscating them at school entry.

The multi-step project involved strategic planning. Communication efforts ensured stakeholder involvement/family engagement. In the early spring of 2022, the district shared the Clear Backpack survey with students and parents to gather input on the need for a clear backpack policy. The survey was open for a month to allow sufficient time to receive responses. Survey results indicated a split decision. In good faith, LCSD 55 created the Clear Backpack Requirement Guidelines as an added safety measure in the district.

Drafting the Clear Backpack Requirement Guidelines and procurement of clear backpacks were underway beginning mid-Spring 2022. LCSD 55 intentionally planned to provide clear backpacks for all students and ensure the clear backpack requirement is not a financial burden on families.

Logistics and communications work continued through different phases of the project. The district released the Clear Backpack Requirement Guidelines two months prior to starting the 2022-2023 school year. A free backpack and supplies drive was held on August 1, 2022. A total of 1,813 clear backpacks were given to students at the event. Some district families opted to purchase clear backpacks.

NSPRA will hold an awards ceremony to honor and recognize LCSD 55 at the Phillips Market Center in West Columbia on Friday, May 12, 2023. LCSD 55 Superintendent Dr. Ameca C. Thomas said, “I am honored to receive this prestigious award on behalf of our entire school district. The Safety Made Clear campaign was an incredible collaborative effort that involved many dedicated individuals who are passionate about keeping our students and staff safe. This recognition is a testament to their hard work and commitment to our community, and I am proud to be a part of such an amazing team. Thank you to the South Carolina National School Public.