GSSM Students Take First Place in Academic Competition

Hartsville, SC - The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) Academic Team traveled to High Point, NC, on October 20 to compete in the High Point Central Open. The tournament featured 14 teams from 10 schools. GSSM was the only South Carolina school in the competition.

GSSM competed in seven matches during the tournament. While the competition was tough and the scores were close, the Eagles were undefeated and took home the first place trophy.

The GSSM Academic Team is coached by Dr. Gary Salazar, professor of mathematics at GSSM. Team members include James Dockery Jr., child of James Dockery and Wanda Cassidy-Dockery of Wallace; Leighton E. O'Dell, child of Carmen L. O’Dell and W.D. O’Dell Sr. of Cheraw; Rajat Sethi, child of Rahul and Sonali Sethi of Fort Mill; and Rohit Swain, child of Nikunja Swain and Sudeshna Das of Orangeburg.

“One of the best facets of this year's squad is the overall balance of knowledge across disciplines,” said Dr. Salazar. “Each student has developed their own specialty area, whether that be in literature, international politics, religion, or astronomy. Another exciting aspect is that the majority of the scoring during the HPC Open came from our junior class. This indicates that the team has potential to excel not only this academic year, but the next one as well.”

As a result of their outstanding performance, the GSSM Academic Team qualified for 4 different national championships: the High School National Championship Tournament, the Small School National Championship Tournament, the National Scholastic Championship, and the National Academic Championship. The GSSM Academic Team’s next tournament will be held November 10 at the University of South Carolina.

About GSSM
Founded in 1988 as a model for advanced STEM education in South Carolina, GSSM is a nationally recognized school serving about five hundred of the state's most accomplished scholars in the 10th through 12th grades through its residential and virtual programs. The school offers unique advanced courses in science, mathematics, and engineering at its campus in Hartsville and virtually to partner school districts across the state. Learn more by visiting

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