New Riverbank Elementary School a sign of West Columbia pride and growth

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The new school year 2018-19 is almost upon us. Teachers officially report to school on Monday. Students begin classes a week later, on Aug. 20.

This is a landmark year in West Columbia with the opening of Riverbank Elementary School. The new school is on Cougar Drive, across from Northside Middle School, near Howard Park off of Sunset Boulevard.

The two-story school will house grades K-through-2 on the ground floor and grades 3, 4 and 5 on the second floor. The cost is more than $30-million and the school has an approximate area of 155,000-sq-ft., with wide hallways and large classrooms.

It features project labs, collaborative class areas, expansive windows for natural light, and the most energy efficient heating and cooling system. The new technology used by the school includes Promethium Boards and active panels, installed in every classroom and conference room, to allow projection of an image from a laptop or a computer.

Riverbank also is equipped with a top-of-the-line security system with electronic ID badges required for all staff. There are also safety surveillance cameras in all of the school’s areas.

Riverbank will take students from BC Grammar No. 1 and Pineview Elementary. Those two schools are closing as elementary schools. BC Grammar operated for 65 years and Pineview was open for 50 years. There is a lot of love and respect for the schools Riverbank will replace.

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“Riverbank Elementary represents the future, though one firmly rooted in the history and tradition of Pineview and BC Grammar,” said Lexington Two Superintendent Dr. William B. James Jr.

“BC Grammar No. 1 and Pineview Elementary have served our students and communities well — BC Grammar since the early 1950s, and Pineview since the late ’60s,” said James. “The opening of the new Riverbank Elementary is a continuation of the culture that has been built through generations of students from these community schools.”

West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton said he is a strong proponent of public education. He’s very excited about the new school, and very respectful of the schools that have built the West Columbia community. The city has made an effort to work with Lexington School District Two to help get the new school constructed.

We want to help our schools and our families as much as we can.” said Horton. “The education of our children is a priority for city council.”

Stuart Jones, the City of West Columbia’s Building Official and Public Utilities Coordinator, is an alumnus of both BC Grammar No. 1 and Pineveiw Elementary.

I have fond memories of my days at both schools,” said Jones. He said most of the students walked to B.C. Grammar No. 1 when he was there. I don’t remember any buses,” said Jones. He said he remembers students who rode on the city bus to school, and bikes. “There were bike racks in front of the school, and a lot of students rode their bikes to school.”

Jones moved out to Pineview when he was in the fifth grade. He said that school had fewer houses around it in the 1970s.

There were more bus riders at Pineview,” said Jones. “I thought it was cool because I would get to ride the bus to school.”

Preston Deaver and Asst. Prin. Marise Shumpert of BC Grammar No. 1, with school alumni Stuart Jones and Jennifer Boyd, and Mayor Bobby Horton.

In addition to Riverbank Elementary, Saluda River Academy for the Arts in West Columbia will reopen for the 2017-18 year after undergoing a renovation.

Saluda River Academy for the Arts was in a temporary location last school year. SRAA students will be moving back home later this summer after extensive renovations.

Saluda River Academy for the Arts is at 1520 Duke St., West Columbia. Renovations include a larger media center; expanded arts space; renovated restrooms; and a new gym/cafetorium to accommodate performances and activities.

The newly named Lexington Two Community Education Center will house adult education, the STAR program and Student Services. It will be open later this year in the former BC Grammar No. 1 School, at 114 Hook Ave., West Columbia.

New Bridge Academy, formerly the Pair Education Center, is the district’s alternative school. It’s at 2325 Platt Springs Road, West Columbia.

The new school, and the upgrades of other faculties are just another indicator of the growth and improvement in West Columbia. The schools are a large part of a great community.


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