Community News Connection: SCAD Equestrian wins IHSA National Title

Commissioner Whitely to host District 6 community discussion, SPD ceremony for fallen officers open to public on Wednesday

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SCAD Equestrian wins 2024 IHSA Hunter Seat Team Championship

click to enlarge Community News Connection: SCAD Equestrian wins IHSA National Title (2)
Courtesy of SCAD

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) equestrian team won the 2024 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) Hunter Seat Team Championship on Sunday, May 5, capturing their fourth IHSA national title in school history. Nearly 500 collegiate athletes competed in the event, which took place at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

SCAD sophomore Alex Alston earned two individual national titles, winning Champion in Dover Saddlery Individual Open Equitation Over Fences and Dover Saddlery Team Open Equitation on the Flat events. Alston also had the highest overall score as an Interscholastic Equestrian Association alumnus in the Over Fences event. Peter Cavagnac (B.F.A. advertising and branding) was named Champion in the Chronicle of the Horse Team Limit Equitation on the Flat event, while Kameron Riggs (B.F.A. performing arts) was named Champion in Team Introductory.

"This is such a significant win for our team and equestrian program and for SCAD as the home of champions,” said head coach Ashley Henry. “This season has been the culmination of so much hard work and passion. From the beginning, our SCAD equestrian team has focused on getting to Nationals and we are proud to bring this banner home once again.”

SCAD competed against some of the best collegiate equestrian teams in the country, defeating Sacred Heart University, Skidmore College, St. Lawrence University, Penn State University, and the University of Georgia to win the Hunter Seat Team Championship.

"I am incredibly proud of our SCAD equestrian team,” said SCAD Savannah Director of Athletics Amanda Workman Haverstick. “Their success this season has been earned through dedication and outstanding leadership by Coach Henry and the equestrian staff, who have led the team to capturing their fourth IHSA Team title.”

The complete list of SCAD individual rider results include:

  • Alex Alston (Sophomore) - Champion Dover Saddlery Individual Open Equitation Over Fences, Champion Open Team Flat, Highest Overall Score Over Fences

  • Celia Cram (Junior) - USHJA High-Point Hunter Seat Rider, Presenting the Cacchione Cup, Reserve Champion, Reserve National Champion in the Dover Saddlery Individual Open Equitation Over Fences, 3rd Dover Saddlery Individual Open Equitation on the Flat, 3rd Dover Saddlery Team Open Equitation Over Fences

  • Hattie Bradford (Sophomore) - 4th Horseware Ireland Team Intermediate Equitation Over Fences, 4th Horseware Ireland Team Intermediate Equitation on the Flat, 4th The Chronicle of the Horse Individual Limit Equitation Over Fences

  • Peter Cavagnac (Freshman) - Champion The Chronicle of the Horse Team Limit Equitation on the Flat, 7th The Chronicle of the Horse Team Limit Equitation Over Fences

  • Karma Redman (Junior) - 8th The Chronicle of the Horse Team Limit Equitation on the Flat

  • Carly Vujakovich (Senior) - 9th Individual Novice Equitation on the Flat

  • Lexie Stoebenau (Sophomore) - 3rd Team Novice Equitation on the Flat

  • Kameron Riggs (Sophomore) - Champion Team Introductory Equitation

  • Chloe Lakloufi (Senior) - 4th Individual Introductory Equitation

In April, SCAD took home the top trophy at the IHSA Collegiate Cup Zone 5 Team Championship, opening the gate for the team to advance to Nationals. Throughout this record-breaking season, SCAD has dominated with four Team National Championship wins – Overall Tournament of Champions National Title, American National Riding Commission (ANRC) Novice Division National Title and Reserve, ANRC National Division National Title, and Reserve and IHSA Collegiate National Title.

Bees were also the Collegiate Cup Champions in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2024, and the Reserve Champion in 2018, 2019, and 2023, establishing an elite equestrian program unlike any other. The SCAD equestrian team has been led by head coach and SCAD alum, Ashley Henry, since 2005. For more information on SCAD athletics, visit

SPD honors fallen officers at annual Police Memorial

The Savannah Police Department invites the community to join us in honoring our fallen officers at the annual Police Memorial on May 15 at 10 am The ceremony will be held at the Police Officers Memorial located at the corner of Oglethorpe Avenue and Habersham Street.

This special event is an opportunity for our community to remember and pay tribute to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. We will gather to reflect on their service, dedication, and commitment to keeping our city safe. The memorial will include a solemn ceremony with speeches, placing of roses, and a wreath-laying.

Please join us as we come together to honor our fallen officers and remember their courageous service. Validated parking is available at Bryan Street Parking Garage, and a trolley will be available to transport attendees from the garage to the Memorial.

Chatham County Commissioner to host District 6 community discussion

Commissioner Aaron "Adot" Whitely, representing District 6, announces a Community Discussion scheduled for Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 pm at Mosaic Church. Topics of discussion will be 911 service, Regional Athletic Facilities, code enforcement, fire service, and more.

Whitely is inviting residents, community stakeholders and interested parties to attend this informative session with opportunities to ask questions of him.

Residents that cannot make it in person may watch the live stream on the Chatham County Facebook page. Send your questions ahead of time to Whitely’s email at [email protected].

Jenkins High achieves Georgia Nutrition and Food Science Industry Certification

Jenkins High CTAE instructor Kaney Ballance and her students have achieved the Georgia Nutrition and Food Science Industry Certification for Jenkins High School’s Family and Consumer Science Program. Schools with an existing Nutrition and Food Science program that has been in existence for three consecutive years can pursue Nutrition and Food Science Industry Certification.

In order to achieve this certification, all teachers are required to pass a content knowledge test. The high school program will be evaluated using standards set by the Georgia Nutrition and Food Science Foundation, Inc. The school must complete a self-assessment in relation to the standards and then pass a site review by an NFS team. The NFS Review Team will review the high school/program documentation, observe and visit the facilities, and interview the teacher, high school students and advisory committee members.

The Industry Certification Instructional Program must include at least 180 hours of classroom and/or laboratory instruction per the state recommended curriculum guide. All Nutrition & Food Science Standards I-IX must be met. GaDOE requires a recertification every 5 years for all certified programs and requires the same Site Visit procedures as the initial certification for review of the high school program by the Nutrition & Food Science Review Team.

City Manager appoints Chief of Planning and Economic Development

Following a robust search and comprehensive evaluation process, City Manager Joseph A. Melder is appointing Faye DiMassimo as the City’s Chief of Planning and Economic Development. In this role, DiMassimo will oversee the efforts of seven departments, including Development Services; Economic Development; Mobility and Parking Services; Planning and Urban Design; Special Events, Film & Tourism; Sustainability; and Transportation Services.

“Faye DiMassimo is a proven leader with the skills and experience we need to advance our planning and economic opportunity efforts,” Melder said.

“Faye has already demonstrated tremendous vision, skill and leadership in our community. I have every confidence that she will continue to make bold, lasting impacts in Savannah. I firmly believe the decisions we will make in the next five years regarding coordinated planning, land use, infrastructure, and economic opportunity for all will define our region for the next 100 years. I am excited to have someone of Faye’s caliber joining Team Savannah at such a consequential time.”

click to enlarge Community News Connection: SCAD Equestrian wins IHSA National Title (7)
Faye DiMassimo

DiMassimo served as the Executive Director/CEO of Chatham Area Transit (CAT) before resigning last week. She has more than 40 years of experience with federal, regional, and local public entities as well as the private sector in the development, management, and delivery of multimodal systems, complex planning projects and programs.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration and Masters of Community Planning and Public Administration from Auburn University. Additionally, she is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP). DiMassimo’s appointment is effective June 17.

Johnson High Valedictorian Receives Full Ride Questbridge Scholarship

click to enlarge Community News Connection: SCAD Equestrian wins IHSA National Title (4)
Courtesy of SCCPSS

Sol C. Johnson senior and valedictorian, Alexa Antunez Santos, has been named a recipient of this year’s QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. Alexa is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Candidate and was matched with the University of Chicago through the QuestBridge Scholarship program, which not only guarantees her 100% full tuition, but also covers the costs of supplies, housing, books, and travel to and from Chicago.

Match Scholarship Recipients are admitted early to QuestBridge college partners with full four-year scholarships provided by the colleges and universities, ensuring for these students and their families that an education at a top college is affordable.

QuestBridge’s partners include top colleges and universities such as Brown, Claremont McKenna, Columbia, MIT, Northwestern, Swarthmore, Vanderbilt, and Williams. The Match Scholarship is made up of a generous financial aid package provided by the college that covers the full cost of attendance, including tuition, housing and food, books and supplies, and travel expenses.

This year’s Match Scholarship Recipients come from 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Alexa is this year’s only match in the Savannah area.

These outstanding high school seniors have an average unweighted GPA of 3.94, and 93% are in the top 10% of their graduating class. Around 92% come from a household with an annual income under $65,000, and 87% qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. The majority of this year’s Match Scholarship Recipients — 82% — are among the first generation in their families to attend a four-year college in the United States.

Congratulations to Alexa on this amazing accomplishment!

Differently-abled dance team, Dance Savannah Honey Dippers clinch World Dance Championship title

Community News Connection: SCAD Equestrian wins IHSA National Title (5)
Courtesy of Dance Savannah

The dance world witnessed history in the making as the remarkable Honey Dippers of Dance Savannah Elite emerged victorious at the prestigious Dance Worlds 2024, held in Orlando, Florida, from April 26–29.

Comprising six exceptionally talented athletes, the Honey Dippers of Dance Savannah Elite stood out amidst 1,650 dancers from the United States All-Star Federation (USASF). Their journey, rooted in inclusivity, empowerment, and sheer artistic brilliance, has been nothing short of inspiring.

The team includes:

  • Coach Mercedes Green

  • Jesse Johnson

  • Catherine Solferino

  • Shaina Pachter

  • Sean Hussey

  • Emily Kenkel

  • Ethan Shreck

  • Coach Lucy Jordan

  • Coach Tysheena Jordan-Gordon

Since their inception in the fall of 2023, the Honey Dippers have captivated audiences with their unparalleled performances in Savannah and Pigeon Forge. Their selection to perform at Disney’s Dance Worlds was a testament to their exceptional talent and dedication to their craft.

“We are thrilled and honored to represent our community on the global stage of Dance Worlds 2024 and come in First Place,” expressed Tysheena Jordan-Gordon, the visionary behind Dance Savannah Elite. “For us, dance is more than just movement; it’s a form of self-expression, empowerment, and unity. We hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams fearlessly, regardless of any obstacles they may face.”

The Honey Dippers’ triumph at Dance Worlds 2024 not only highlights their extraordinary talent but also emphasizes the significance of inclusion and diversity in the dance world. Through their performances, they have shattered stereotypes, redefined boundaries, and touched the hearts of countless individuals worldwide.

As they bask in the glory of their well-deserved victory, the Honey Dippers of Dance Savannah Elite extend their heartfelt gratitude to their supporters, mentors, and the entire dance community for believing in their dreams.

Savannah State University honors students, faculty

Savannah State University (SSU) recently recognized hundreds of high-achieving students and a few special faculty members during its Annual Honors Convocation. The university commended all students who had at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) during the spring or fall 2023 semesters. Additional awards were given to students who had at least 31 credit hours and maintained a 3.0 or higher GPA.

“The Student Union ballrooms were full to capacity with our stellar students and their supportive families,” said SSU Interim President Cynthia Alexander. “We were overjoyed to honor these students who worked hard and dedicated long hours to studying to achieve their goals.”

The highest achieving students from each college were honored as guest speakers during the ceremony including Joseph Hale, College of Business Administration, Francisco Arraut, College of Liberal Arts and Social Studies, Niya Anderson, College of Education, and Luke Sanders, College of Science and Technology.

Jiwon Choi, a junior biology major, who recently received the University System of Georgia Board of Regents Academic Achievement Award at a ceremony in Atlanta, also was honored at the ceremony.

In addition to students, SSU honored three faculty members for outstanding achievements. Dr. Gabriel Arnold, associate professor of music and director of the University bands, received the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Christopher Hintz, professor of marine and environmental science, accepted the Faculty Research Excellence and Innovation Award. SSU also honored Dr. Chad Faries, associate professor of English, languages, and cultures, with the Faculty Service Excellence Award.

“These students and faculty uphold the high ideals of our university,” Alexander said. “They are role models for all other SSU Tigers to follow and it was our pleasure to honor them.”

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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