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Say hello to Nation Ford

Pat Wichowski with Union Glass & Metal in Fort Mill adjusts a Nation Ford High School sign at one of the entrances to Fort Mill's newest school recently.
Pat Wichowski with Union Glass & Metal in Fort Mill adjusts a Nation Ford High School sign at one of the entrances to Fort Mill's newest school recently.

A textbook was neatly tucked under each desk, and five sinks sparkled in the health studies classroom.

Agriculture teacher Jacques LeCour was planning where students will build the school's hands-on classroom golf green.

Principal Beverley Bowman shouted, "Go, Nation Ford Falcons," for the first time from the new high school's auditorium stage and was greeted with a resounding cheer.

Sunday's dedication provided an auspicious beginning for Nation Ford High School. Beaming Fort Mill Schools Superintendent Keith Callicutt said he was thrilled that between 500 and 600 people turned out on a sizzling Sunday afternoon for the event.

He, Bowman, S.C. State Schools Superintendent Jim Rex, school board chairman Martha Kinard and former Fort Mill Schools Superintendent Thomas "TEC" Dowling stood by as the school's student government president Michael Hirsch and vice president Elizabeth Liotta cut the school's spangled dedication ribbon.

"We dedicate Nation Ford High School today, Aug. 12, 2007," Bowman said somberly.

Rex had spoken about preparing optimistic, self-confident students for problem-solving in a global economy, and the students personified those qualities as they toured the school with parents after the ceremony.

"It's really, really big," said incoming freshman Jennifer Jacobs, 14. "I've heard Fort Mill High is really tiny, and the students are packed in."

About 900 students who would have attended Fort Mill High will attend Nation Ford this year, according to school officials.

The spaciousness seemed to impress most people wandering the building.

"I'm kinda lost," said Barry Burch, father of incoming freshman Becca Burch. "When I was in high school, you had to wait until college to get lost."

Sophomore Kent Bonebrake, 15, also liked "how open it is" and didn't mind transferring after one year at Fort Mill High.

Sophomore Chelsea Jasper, 15, said it was "kind of hard to change because you leave friends behind," but she wore a red, black and silver Falcon cheerleading outfit and said it was "really exciting to start off a new school."

"I think it's going to be cool to have all the technology," she said of Nation Ford.

The principal of Rock Hill's Dutchman Creek Middle School, scheduled to open in 2009, strolled about taking notes. He, too, liked the school's "openness" and how the exterior replicated Fort Mill's textile past.

"The color scheme is conducive to learning," he said. "It's modern. Kids like that. I'm getting ideas, because I'm opening a new school next year."

Sophomore David Keller, 15, liked just about everything about his new school, including the textile-themed exterior and abstract steel patterns in large windows representing the future. "It's really creative," he said.

He's looking forward to the more personal touch of a smaller student body and the school's second floor. "You can look out the windows," he said.

Junior Falcon football tackle Jake Kimbrell, 16, and his brother, Alex Kimbrell, 12, were impressed with the new equipment in the weight room. Alex, a seventh-grader, can't wait to get to high school.

Jake seemed to speak for all the new Nation Ford students, eagerly awaiting a rally this week, a football game Friday and the first day of school next week.

"I'm looking forward to it because it's a brand new school," he said.

$40 million

Cost to build

253,000

Size of the school in square feet, with an additional 39,000 square feet still to be added.

More than 3,000

Number of light bulbs

1,875

Number of student desks

1,800

Number of seats in the gymnasium

1,500

Student capacity

80

Number of security cameras

75

Number of classrooms

Student orientation: 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Students hold class meetings, meet their teachers in their rooms, take tours.

Pep rally: 7 p.m. Thursday in the gym. Opening ceremonies and large scale rally with band, cheerleaders, coaches and various school organizations.

For a video tour of Nation Ford High School, visit

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