York elementary students honor ‘trucker buddy’; others celebrate achievements

From achieving the highest Boy Scout title to thanking local emergency responders, businesses and residents are celebrating accomplishments.

Here are a few:

York elementary students honor N.C. truck driver

North Carolina truck driver Gary Killian has a close bond with the students of Cotton Belt Elementary. Killian connected with the students through Trucker Buddy International, a non-profit organization that facilitates pen pal relationships with truck drivers and schoolchildren. After a screening process, the truckers are matched with a class and are directed by a teacher.

The truck drivers share their experience with the students through letters while the students send their own letters and photos to the driver. The drivers introduce the trucking industry to the students and educators, “helping them see the world through the eyes of a professional truck driver,” the organization states.

Earlier this year, Cotton Belt teacher Rita Woodley and her class nominated Killian for the Outstanding Trucker Buddy Award. On May 18, the award was presented to Killian at the elementary school, giving the driver a chance to meet his pen pals in person.

Rock Hill student wins at national history competition

Julia Breitkreutz, 17, a rising senior at Northwestern High School, combined her love of history and acting to take home a national award at the June 11-15 National History Day competition.

National History Day is a non-profit education organization based in College Park, Md. Every year, the organization hosts the national competition in College Park. The annual competition draws more than 3,000 students and teachers from across the United States, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and international schools in China, Korea, South Asia, and Central America.

Students research a chosen topic and compete in categories such as performance, exhibit, documentary or website. Breitkreutz competed in the individual performance category, acting out a script with props that told the story of Nellie Bly, a legendary investigative journalist.

“I like writing a lot,” she said. “I also really like acting, so I combined two things I like.”

After advancing through the regional competition held at Winthrop University, then the state competition, Breitkreutz took home the Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers Prize at nationals for her use of newspapers as research sources. Breitkreutz’s project was chosen from all the performance projects entered by high school seniors, said state National History Day director Angela Dembiczak.

“There was a lot of talented people,” Breitkreutz said. “It felt so amazing.

It was nice to know hard work does pay off.”

Rock Hill student earns Eagle Scout

After working toward many badges, taking camping trips and building his skills, Connor Oedewaldt, 18, has earned the highest rank in Boy Scouts. On a trip to Bethelwoods Camp and Conference Center in Rock Hill, Oedewaldt saw a need and began working to help others.

Oedewaldt, a rising senior at Westminster Catawba Christian School, said he learned that a hill at Bethelwoods was hard to manage for older citizens and children with special needs. So he got to work building a set of steps down the hill to the amphitheater.

“I learned more about why these steps would be helpful and it sounded like a good project,” Oedewaldt said. “I’ve heard good reviews about it.

They are sturdy steps that will probably be there for a long time.”

After two weekends working with other scouts, the steps were built. On June 5, Oedewaldt earned his Eagle Scout.

“It’s the pinnacle of all the hard work, dedication and time you put in over the years,” he said. The steps “are far worth the effort we put in.”

Rock Hill resident inducted to safety Hall of Fame

Fred G.

Freiberger of Rock Hill has a history of supporting safety, having won an award for his redesign of a major highway in Hartford, Conn. in the early 1960s, according to a release from the family. The design was Freiberger’s graduate school project and the highway was built 15 years later. The American Society of Safety Engineers inducted Freiberger into their Hall of Fame during a May convention in Greensboro, the release states.

“Being recognized by ones peers is mind blowing and humbling,” he said.

Freiberger has also contributed to a self-stopping power lawn mower for the Consumer Protection Safety Commission and Confined Space Entry precautions for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.

Freiberger has also helped improve the reliability of the international air control radar system through the Federal Aviation Administration and provided safety engineering support for the recovery of the submarine Hundley, the release says. Freiberger is now an author and adjunct professor.

“What a grand way to crown a 50-plus year career,” Freiberger said. “The recognition that your efforts have impacted thousands of lives and global projects, most of which is unknown to those who benefit.”

Winthrop fraternity recognized for distinction

The North-American Interfraternity Conference recently recognized Winthrop University’s Pi Kappa Phi organization with a Chapter Award of Distinction, according to the university. Pi Kappa Phi was chosen as one of seven fraternities in the nation that “exemplified the highest levels of excellence in leadership, service and education,” a release states.

Sarah Pankratz, Winthrop’s assistant director of student activities for fraternity and sorority affairs, called the achievement “an outstanding accomplishment for a chapter at a university of Winthrop’s size,” the release states.

Winthrop faculty earn promotions, tenure

Six Winthrop University faculty members were recently granted tenure: Kristen Abernathy, mathematics; Leslie Bickford, English; Nathaniel Frederick, mass communication; Scott Shinabargar, world languages; Pamela Wash, education and Douglas Presley, music.

Sixteen faculty members were promoted, including: Siobhan Brownson, English; Jeannie Haubert, sociology; Peter Judge, religious studies; Scott Shinabargar, French; Hemant Patwardhan, management; Laura Ullrich, economics; Daniel Drane, sport management; Debra Leach, special education; Kristi Schoepfer, sport management; Pamela Wash, education; Lorrie Crochet, music and Stephen Gundersheim, theatre to professor.

Others promoted to associate professor are: Maria Aysa-Lastra, sociology; Eric Birgbauer, biology; Nathaniel Frederick, mass communication and Amanda Hiner, English.

Twenty-one Winthrop University faculty members also recently retired.

Together, they have 472 years of service to the university, says Provost Debra Boyd.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082

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