Education

Welcome Copperheads: Here’s a closer look at Fort Mill’s newest high school

Large windows line multiple floors and hallways that boast green and brown color schemes to mimic the landscape. Paint and panel patterns mimic waves of the nearby Catawba River.

Catawba Ridge, Fort Mill’s newest high school, opens to students in August. It’s the day Principal Dee Christopher has been waiting for.

“I’m ready for students to get here and start creating our own culture, traditions,” he said, “and hopefully developing students that are going to go out and meet the challenges of the next stage of their life.”

The more than 400,000-square foot school, home of the Copperheads, sits off Fort Mill Parkway and will serve about 850 students in grades 9-11 the first year, Christopher said. The school will serve grades 9-12 starting in 2020-2021.

The school features two gyms, a practice room for wrestling and cheerleading, a weight room, a stadium and a separate track facility, Christopher said.

Visual art students will take advantage of the auditorium, visual art classrooms, black box theater, band room and an art gallery in the school’s main hallway.

“I am so thrilled to get to start a program for the first time,” said Jessica Calloway, visual arts teacher. “The way they organized the campus is really conducive to collaboration and to working together with athletics or academics and the arts. I’m really excited about those opportunities.”

Calloway comes to Catawba Ridge from Fort Mill High School. She was named Fort Mill’s 2017-2018 district teacher of the year.

Catawba Ridge will offer programs such as career and technology, business, biomedical science, health science, digital art design, engineering, culinary and sports medicine.

Early childhood education students will work with four-year-old children in the school’s on-site kindergarten, mainly open to teachers who pay for their children to attend, Christopher said.

“We have everything Fort Mill and Nation Ford High School offer. All of our schools are basically the same in our offerings,” he said.

Catawba Ridge students “are going to have an opportunity to build something unique with clubs, activities, traditions ... they’re really going to drive a lot of what our school is and what it becomes,” Christopher said.

Catawba Ridge’s location makes for a short commute for its students, he said.

“It’s really going to be a community school for this area of southern Fort Mill,” Christopher said.

While the school is new, Catawba Ridge will mimic the culture seen at other Fort Mill schools.

“We’re going to have a really positive culture,” Christopher said. “I’m really excited about the staff we have.”

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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