Schools Prepare For New School Year
August 8, 2017
By John Steinberger | Contributing Writer
After months of summer vacation, schools are preparing to launch a new school year. Teachers report back for duty Thursday, Aug. 10 (although many of them have been preparing their classrooms for weeks) and the students return to the classroom a week later. For commuters, it will mean more traffic on the road and watching out for school bus stops.
At West Ashley High School (WAHS), there was uncertainty about the school leadership as the last school year ended. Principal Lee Runyon was given a “pending” contract in April, and there were rallies on his behalf, attended by hundreds. Charleston County School District (CCSD) Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait held a listening tour during the summer months featuring teachers, students, parents and others. During the discussions, many people spoke out in favor of retaining Runyon at WAHS.
Postlewait was clearly influenced by the show of support, and the 2017-2018 school year will begin with Runyon at the helm at WAHS. He is officially listed as a Principal on Assignment for the planned West Ashley and North Charleston Centers for Advanced Studies, technical training centers which are scheduled to open in 2020. The CCSD sought applications for the WAHS Principal position in May, and Runyon is among the applicants. He wants to stay at the school.
Runyon is optimistic about the start of the school year. Enrollment is expected to increase by about 50 students from the previous school year to about 1,775. An assistant principal position has been added, and the school will begin the year with an In-School Suspension (ISS) proctor, the absence of which caused turmoil the year before.
The sports program at our community high school is already ramping up. There are 120 varsity and JV football players practicing, along with the band, cheerleaders and dance squad. They will be ready for action for the Aug. 10 Sertoma Classic at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The action begins at 5 p.m., although the West Ashley — Stall matchup is last on the schedule. Tickets are available at CharlestonSertoma.org.
WAHS will begin the school year with a new Strategic Plan. Among the priorities are improving the school climate, expanding the number of students enrolled in dual credit college courses, and increasing the number of students who receive college credit in Advanced Placement courses.
Orange Grove Charter School begins the school year for the first time as a K-8 school. The middle school, located on the Oakland Elementary campus on Arlington Drive, added one grade level at a time. With its first 8th grade class in place, the school will have a total enrollment of 1150 students. Principal John Clendaniel notes that there were 350 applications for 120 spots in the 6th grade class. The total of 1250 applications for K-8 enrollment made Orange Grove the most sought-after choice school in Charleston County.
Three West Ashley schools will also begin the year with three new leaders. Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary has a new Principal — Michelle Conner. And so does Springfield Elementary — Megan Williams and at West Ashley Advanced Studies Magnet — Brant Glover.
Three West Ashley elementary schools were recently placed on the Leadership Honor Roll, based on a teacher survey by the Charleston Teacher Alliance – Drayton Hall, Oakland and Stono Park. Stono Park recently got the good news that it will be moving into a new school in 2019. Its 300 students are currently housed in the old St. Andrews High School building, along with Carolina Voyager charter school.
There is always a lot of promise and excitement going into a new school year. Please consider delivering pencils, notebook paper and other school supplies to a school near you or perhaps even ask if volunteers are needed.
John Steinberger is the editor-in-chief of LowcountrySource.com. To contact him, email John@LowcountrySource.com.