CLOVER -- Clover's newest elementary school will celebrate the town's ties to Larne, Northern Ireland.
The Clover school board on Monday approved names for the district's new schools: Oakridge Middle School in Lake Wylie off S.C. 557 and Larne Elementary School on U.S. 321.
Oakridge gets its name from Oakridge Road, which intersects S.C. 557 at the school site. Larne was chosen in honor of Clover's sister city, Larne.
Board member Kathy Cantrell pitched the idea for Larne Elementary.
"It's so much about who we are and our heritage," Cantrell said.
In September 2007, Clover and Larne became sister cities, following a 10-year twinning relationship.
"The history of Clover ties back to the early settlers from Ireland," Cantrell said. "Naming the school Larne Elementary is a good way to honor that relationship and recognize it for years to come."
Cantrell said school names were submitted to the district from students last month. Oakridge Middle was selected from the pool of student ideas, but none of the elementary suggestions popped out, Cantrell said.
"There were good suggestions, but I was still kind of 'blah' about them," she said. "Then I got to thinking about the other schools -- Bethany, Bethel, Crowders Creek, they're all indicative of their actual geographic setting. The name Clover elementary came up, but I was uncomfortable with that.
"We have six elementaries in the Clover school district so why would we only want one with the name Clover?" Cantrell said to other board members.
Cantrell liked the sound of Larne Elementary and the possibilities it may bring. She said now every student at the school will have special connection to Larne.
Clover's Ulster American Society chairman Wes Spurrier, a town councilman who made the trek to Larne last year with a Clover delegation, applauded the school board for its decision.
"The school system in Clover is one of the greatest assets in our community, so naming one of the new schools after our sister city will provide great awareness of the relationship," Spurrier said. "More importantly, it makes the connection between Clover and Larne stronger, highlights our heritage and shows that we're a diverse culture that embraces international ties."
Soon the district will pick school mascots.
Cantrell's ready to offer her 2 cents on that, too.
"We're thinking leprechauns," she quipped.