Principal Points

November 16, 2017

Dear parents and guardians,

The halls of Academic Magnet are buzzing with both trepidation and celebration as our senior students prepare and present their thesis defenses to small audiences of experts and supporters.  The Senior Thesis project is a hallmark of the AMHS program that spotlights the exemplary achievements of our graduates and sets them apart in the college admissions process.  Just this past week we have received word that the work of both current and former students is receiving national attention in some of the top research competitions, conferences, and publications in the United States.

We recently highlighted senior Jenny Yao, who has been named a semifinalist in this year’s Siemens Competition, the nation’s premier competition in math, science, and technology for high school students.  Jenny was mentored by Dr. Ying Mei of the Clemson-MUSC Joint Bioengineering Program.  Throughout her research and thesis program, Yao has actually worked on a few projects with Dr. Mei, and co-authored a journal publication in Acta Biomaterialia, a leading biomaterials journal. Jenny states, “My project, titled ‘Engineering Metabolically Viable Stem Cell Spheroids for Human Cardiac Regeneration,’ sought to investigate the effects of different external nutrient environments on 3D stem cell microtissues, or spheroids, on spheroid viability.”

Senior Jack Hosley’s paper has been accepted for presentation at the Southeastern Psychological Association meeting which will be held in Charleston for the first time this year (March 7-9, 2018). His submission went into the fully competitive professional arena and was blindly reviewed. This was not a student research competition but a prestigious professional-level review and selection process. His mentor was Dr. Conway Saylor of The Citadel. “In my years of mentoring AMHS students I have only known of two others who achieved this – Nora Grace Awkerman in the very early years of AMHS and Gwen Politano in the last ten years or so.” This is the interim citation for their study:

Hosley, J. & Saylor, C. (2018, March). Self-reported bullying and ostracism in students labeled gifted and talented. Accepted for presentation at the Southeastern Psychological Association meeting, Charleston, SC.


And former student Joshua Sun has been recognized by Dr. Donna Roberts, associate professor of radiology at MUSC, for critical data collection and analysis that he undertook in support of her recently published research on a study that she conducted with NASA concerning the structural changes of the brain in astronauts following spaceflight.  The article appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, ranked first among the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals.  The work was featured by major news outlets both nationally and internationally:


Dr. Roberts compliments our research and thesis program: “Joshua worked in my lab and performed important data analysis for this study as part of his senior research thesis for the Academic Magnet.  I think this is quite an impressive accomplishment for a high school student and we greatly appreciated his contribution.  I have acknowledged his work at the end of the manuscript..”


These are just three examples of outstanding student work that is supported by the AMHS program, with every expectation that our students’ research has wide-ranging impact for a better world.  Our congratulations go out to all of our seniors undertaking their thesis defense, with an acknowledgement of the exceptional guidance of both AMHS advisors and community mentors.


And to round out our holistic expectations for service, through the efforts of parents, students, faculty and alumnae, we are now partnering with North Charleston Elementary on an Adopt-a-School project where each AMHS generation is adopting two classrooms of children for whom we will provide Christmas gifts, with in person delivery on December 18. And to make a long-term commitment to North Charleston Elementary and our neighborhood community, we are undertaking student tutoring on Tuesdays from 3:45 to 5:15.  Cherelle Taylor, an AMHS graduate, is a teacher at NCE who has initiated this important work with G10 student Quinna Muthard.  See tutoring sign-up details under Community Service opportunities.


The blessings of opportunity at Academic Magnet should give all of us pause for gratitude and our own personal support.  In all ways, “Thanks for Giving” and a most Happy Thanksgiving holiday to each of you and your families!


Warmest regards,


Catherine Spencer


Congratulations AMHS 9th graders! 
For scoring 2nd in the nation for WordWright, a national close reading and analysis competition. 


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