Richland Northeast High School, established in 1978, played its first varsity football game on its own campus last month. Principal Sabrina Suber fostered such a sense of pride in the first true home game that a groundswell of students and community members took advantage of the fact that they could finally walk to a game.
The school shares the spectacular Harry Parone Stadium with Spring Valley High School, but that’s located 13 miles away, on the Spring Valley campus, so it hardly feels like home for Richland Northeast.
Similarly, Ridge View High School shares a stadium with Blythewood High, forcing its students and fans to travel to their home games, on the Blythewood campus. The newest high school in the district, Westwood, has an amazing stadium as well. These superb facilities have been named “Fields of Excellence,” and the schools are rightly proud of them.
The district maintains that the respective schools have no ownership of these “district” stadiums, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way; the stadiums are absolutely considered a part of each of these schools, and why shouldn’t they be?
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Spring Valley, Blythewood and Westwood cannot claim their fields as their own as long as they are considered “district” stadiums and shared by other schools. Schools in other districts may share such facilities, but they are not located on a school campus, so all the users are equal.
Countless times, we’ve been told there was no money for stadiums at Richland Northeast or Ridge View, but there have been funds for many other worthy projects, including $70 million for recently built Westwood and $40 million for the upcoming Richland 2 Institute for Innovation and district offices.
After all these years and all the efforts on the part of parents, students, faculty and staff, Richland Northeast has set the bar high. I hope this sets a precedent with regard to true home football games at all high schools in Richland District 2. I look forward to seeing true equity and parity at every measurable level, not the least of which is students being able to take pride in their educational experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Amelia B. McKie