New shoes and fresh pencils are standard fare for the first day of class. But about 650 Lake Wylie students and their parents enjoyed a bonus Monday: A new school.
The Clover school district’s new $23 million Oakridge Elementary School welcomed students on the opening day of class. The school is adjacent to Oakridge Middle School on Oakridge Road in Lake Wylie.
On the western side of the Clover district, about 800 students attended another new school, the $40 million Clover Middle School on Barrett Road at S.C. 55.
“We are super excited about it,” said mom Samantha Rehm, who brought her daughter, 5-year-old Amanda Metcalfe, to Oakridge Elementary for her first day of kindergarten. “It looks like everything is just as nice as it could possibly be.”
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Students went back to class Monday in school districts across York, Chester and Lancaster counties. Students in Rock Hill schools return Tuesday.
Many Clover parents seemed more thrilled than their children about the new digs.
“I love it; it’s amazing,” said Megan Williams, whose 6-year-old son Kaleb Williams was starting first grade. “I didn’t imagine it to be like this. It’s a lot bigger. We are so excited to start the school year.”
Oakridge Elementary Principal Lori Maczko said the school’s wide hallways and bright color scheme put people who enter into a good mood.
“There’s an overwhelming sense of pride,” she said.
Third-grade teacher Kaitlyn Hodges, who wore a bright smile as she welcomed students at the door to her classroom, said she’s excited about the new opportunities.
“It’s so colorful and vibrant, and the technology is amazing,” Hodges said, pointing out that teachers have touch-screen Promethean boards. “They did a really good job designing it for students’ needs.”
Fifth-grade teacher Jessica Allred likes the moveable furniture that allows classroom space to be flexible. She said desks can be used in 24 different combinations.
Bathrooms have plenty of stalls and sinks to accommodate the students, Allred said, and her children will be able to study science in a new classroom laboratory down the hall. Technology labs also feature iMacs with large screens.
“Our capabilities are just growing so much,” she said. “The kids are going to be able to do so much stuff.”
The new Clover schools were paid for as part of a $99 million bond package approved by voters in March 2014. During the next year, the former Clover Middle School is to be renovated into a ninth-grade academy to open in 2017.
A new aquatic and fitness center on Charlotte Highway – next to Crowders Creek Elementary School in Lake Wylie – also was part of the bond package. It is scheduled to open Labor Day weekend.
The $17 million center is a partnership with the Upper Palmetto YMCA, which will manage day-to-day operations, but the school district will own the facility.
Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077