Cloudy skies and early morning rain didn’t dampen spirits, as the first Midlands public school students headed back to class. Richland 1, Lexington 2 and Kershaw County schools opened their doors to the new school year Monday. Lexington 3, Lexington 4 and Lexington-Richland 5 head back Tuesday; Lexington 1, Wednesday; and Richland 2, Thursday.
There are a lot of new things happening in this new school year. Following is a sampling, submitted by school districts in Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties.
The Camden High Spring Sports Complex is opening for its first full year, having been completed in February. At ATEC, upgrades were made to the heating and air system, and Lugoff-Elgin and North Central high school kitchens have been upgraded. All other school kitchens were painted and walls upgraded.
This school year, athletic additions will get under way at Leslie M. Stover Middle and North Central Middle.
As part of I-CAN technology program, ninth-graders are receiving iPads, 10th-graders are receiving mini-notebooks, and 11th- and 12th-graders are receiving laptops. A pilot program will be launched using the iPad as the textbook in all Algebra classes.
A new employee dress code — which also extends to people working in schools, such as college students and volunteers — makes unacceptable spaghetti straps, visible body piercings other than ears, short skirts and overly tight or low-cut clothing.
Federal nutritional guidelines for healthier menu offerings will mean new lunch offerings.
Meadow Glen Middle opens this week. It’s the district’s first middle school built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system. Environmentally friendly features include automated lighting control systems; regionally manufactured building materials, some from recycled content; and energy- and water-efficient systems.
While several schools received updates during the summer, White Knoll Middle School was the most completely renovated, with a new secure entrance; new energy-efficient windows; new paint and carpet; and improvements in the STEM lab, Learning Commons and cafeteria.
As part of the Schools of the Future — Now! initiative, world language will become part of middle school students’ core curriculum. Each year, students will take classes in English language arts, math, science, social studies and a world language. The district’s goal is for 75 percent of graduates to speak more than one language by 2020.
The school day will look a little different than it does now. Students may not take every class every day, but the amount of time devoted to each class will be the same over the course of the semester. Each school has developed its own schedule.
The district’s personal mobile computing initiative is being expanded into middle schools this year, after being launched in high schools last year.
Pineview Elementary has been painted, along with Fulmer Middle. Airport High’s stadium light poles have been painted, and Brookland-Cayce High has new carpeting in the south wing. Saluda River Academy for the Arts has new heating/air units.
Lexington 2 is partnering with the S.C. Department of Education to implement “S.C. Gateways Project: From the Cradle to Career.” The project is aimed at helping educators in programs for children with disabilities. Davis Early Childhood Center and Taylor Elementary as well as their connected middle and high schools will be involved.
At Davis Early Childhood Center, a Montessori-infused curriculum will be offered in two of the 4-year-old child development classes. Also, Congaree Elementary will pilot an iLearn second- and third-grade combination class, while B-C Grammar School No. 1 will pilot an iLearn first- and second-grade combination class.
Wood Elementary School this year is expanding its single gender classes to include one second grade class, while Pine Ridge Middle will be piloting seventh-grade single gender math and science classes.
Brookland-Cayce High School will be piloting QUEST for gifted students, a “school within a school” with rigorous learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
Batesburg-Leesville Elementary has new paint and carpet, while three buildings have been torn down at Batesburg-Leesville High: the Summerland Building, an old bus building, and an outdoor canteen.
Batesburg-Leesville Primary will establish learning communities to boost teacher collaboration on planning and student learning. The primary school also is offering a new class for autistic children, afterschool program for nearly 100 students, and a literacy specialist to work with teachers on learning strategies.
Batesburg-Leesville High will implement a Freshman Academy.
A new field house and press box will open, replacing ones built in 1979. The district also has made renovations to its transportation office.
Montessori curriculum is now an option not only at Early Childhood Center and Sandhills Primary School but also at Sandhills Elementary. Engineering classes have been expanded to include Swansea High School and the Freshman Academy.
Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders are participating in STEM’s content and literacy grant.
Lexington- Richland 5
The Center for Advanced Technical Studies is opening with the new year. There are 17 programs of study including biomedical sciences and nanotechnology, engineering design and machine tool technology, alternative energy and engineering systems and aerospace engineering.
Spring Hill High, a magnet high school, is under construction and is scheduled to open in August 2013. There are no plans to redraw attendance lines, as students will attend the school by choice.
Among school renovations, work is under way at Chapin High to improve instruction space, the media center and increase school capacity to 1,700 students. When doors open this week, there will be a new parent drop-off loop, front entry drive, football field, track and tennis courts.
Irmo Elementary has new academic wings, improved student drop-off and pick-up locations, new special needs classrooms, a new music room and a renovated gymnasium. Renovations at Dutch Fork and Irmo high schools include improved parking areas and student drop-off and pick-up locations, as well as improvements to campus security. More construction on both campuses will continue throughout the 2012-13 school year.
Irmo Elementary will have a tuition-based, full-day 4-year-old preschool program. Students will receive instruction in math, literacy, social studies and science.
The Health Sciences Magnet launches at C.A. Johnson High, with a curriculum focused on preparing students for college and careers in health sciences. The program includes internships and research with local hospitals, colleges and universities, clinics and laboratories. Areas of study include health science, health informatics, food science and dietetics, biomedical research and technology (Project Lead The Way), and sports and fitness management.
It’s the first full year for the Navistar diesel technology program at Heyward Career and Technology Center. Students will learn truck repairs, under the direction of National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence-certified instructors.
The Richland One Works (ROW) program uses school-based enterprise and community-based training to prepare special needs students for employment after high school. The new ROW Store at Heyward Career and Technology Center, open to the public, features products made by the students in the program, along with items from vendors, including jewelry, concrete picnic tables, oil changes and car detailing.
The district is requiring any student seeking a parking permit to complete Alive at 25, a four-hour survival course to teach young drivers about the attitudes, behaviors and risks they face every time they get behind the wheel. Students who have their licenses or learner’s permits are eligible for the course.
The district’s newest and fifth high school, Westwood, opens this week. The district’s third football stadium is on campus, and the school’s gym is the district’s largest, with more than 2,500 seats. The school is designed with three areas: Arts and Athletics; Media Center, Offices, Student Activities; and Academics. Westwood does not have lockers. Students will keep their textbooks at home and each student will receive a Samsung Chromebook. The Media Center is equipped with a coffee bar and news studio.
Among renovated schools, Richland Northeast High has a new secondary gym and school facade, as well as an updated courtyard and administrative offices. The first of three phases of enhancements at Richland Northeast High School is getting under way with the development of Culinary Arts and Health Science programs.
Ridge View High unveiled a 24,000 square-foot addition that included a Health Sciences Magnet & Career Training suite with classrooms, labs and lab prep areas. Space for student services, athletics and a large multipurpose area also were included in the additions.
The district continues to equip students with personal computing devices as part of its 1 TWO 1 computing initiative, including Chromebooks, laptops, iPads, Android Tablets and more.
Among new magnet and other offerings are Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training at Westwood High; two new Career and Technology Education programs, Health Sciences and Culinary Arts, at Richland Northeast High; a Scholars Academy at Ridge View High. International Baccalaureate offerings are planned this year for Windsor Elementary, E.L. Wright Middle, and Richland Northeast High.